This article reviews the characterization methods for producing 3-D microstructural data sets. The methods include serial sectioning by mechanical material removal method and focused ion beam tomography method. The article describes how these data sets are used in realistic 3-D simulations of microstructural evolution during materials processing and materials response. It also explains how the 3-D experimental data are actually input and used in the simulations using phase-field modeling and finite-element modeling.
Three-dimensional microscopy can be used to reveal the shape, distribution, and connectivity of three-dimensional (3D) features that lie buried within an opaque material. This article discusses several experimental techniques that can be used to generate 3D images. These include serial sectioning, focused ion beam tomography, atom probe tomography, and X-ray microtomography. Nine case studies are presented that represent the work of the various research groups currently working on 3D microscopy using serial sectioning and illustrate the variants of the basic experimental techniques. The article also discusses the techniques for reconstruction and visualization of 3D microstructures with advanced computer software and hardware.