Book Review of

Images of Materials

Edited by David B. Williams (Lehigh University), Alan R. Pelton (Raychem Metals), and Ronald Gronsky (Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory)
Oxford University Press, New York, 1992
379 pp.

Spring 1993

Reviewed by Thomas P. Nolan and Robert Sinclair, Materials Science and Engineering Department, Stanford University

Understanding the relationship between the structure and properties of materials has led to an entire new field of science-- materials science--and the development of countless new designer materials used in all fields of engineering. Continued development of this wide range of technologies--from thin films for semiconductors and magnetic recording to structural and high- temperature materials for the space shuttle, and to environment- sensitive biological materials--requires a wide variety of imaging techniques. Techniques must be found to study surface and subsurface features, the structure of living organisms, atomic structure, and elemental and chemical composition.

All of these capabilities and more are clearly described and demonstrated in Images of Materials, which presents a stunning view of the new capabilities of modern microscopic techniques to observe and analyze the complicated microstructures of advanced materials.

The basic descriptions and beautiful illustrations will captivate anyone interested in microscopy or the internal structure of materials. Even the most experienced microscopist, however, will gain new insight into the latest advances in a wide variety of microscopies.

Each of the 12 contributed chapters of Images of Materials is a self-contained section focusing on one aspect of modern microscopy and could be read as a separate composition. Topics include advances in classic optical microscopy, modern electron microscopies, and scanning probe microscopies, as well as advances in image processing and analysis. However, this well-conceived compilation reads extremely well as a complete exposition on the subject of microscopy. One cannot help but be impressed both by the advances in the techniques and by the way the appropriate combination of described techniques can meet almost any imaging requirement.

One feature of this book is that, although it contains a wealth of information, each section is clearly and concisely presented, with only the limited amount of jargon required to develop each idea. Almost without exception, the combination of the text and well-drawn diagrams makes the basic principles clear to specialists and nonspecialists alike.

However, this book's greatest contribution to the fields of microscopy and materials science may be its beautiful presentation. Microscopy is largely a visual science. Finally, in Images of Materials there is an exposition which demonstrates both that there is beauty in microscopy and that information critical to the development of modern materials is directly dependent on those beautiful images.

Ronald Gronsky is an investigator at LBL's National Center for Electron Microscopy and chairman of UC Berkeley's Materials Science and Mineral Engineering Department. He also contributed a chapter on "Atomic-Resolution Imaging" to the book.