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Niobium Alloy Specimen Preparation

Metallographic etchant database

Refractory metals such as Rhenium, Niobium, Tungsten and Molybdenum are a very soft, and any loose or fracture abrasive particles can easily embed. This makes specimen preparation very difficlut because it gums up diamond grinding disks or becomes embedded with fractured SiC particles when gound with SiC papers. The key to preparation of this material is to use the tougher alumina abrasive and to chemically etch the specimen between each grinding step. The purpose of etching is to remove the embedded particles and not carry them over as contamination.

MAXCUT Abrasive blade (Cat. No. MAX-C or MAX-I series)

Compression Mounting with Phenolic, Epoxy or Diallyl Phthalate compression mounting resins




Force/ sample



P220 grit ALO paper
P500 grit ALO paper
P1200 grit ALO paper


5-10 lbs

100/100 rpm

Until plane
1 minute
1 minute

1 micron DIAMAT diamond on ATLANTIS polishing pad

DIALUBE Purple Extender

5-10 lbs

100/100 rpm

1 minute

0.05 um acidic Nanometer acid alumina on a BLACKCHEM 2 pad

Polishing with 10% Diluted etchant below:

Niobium - 30 ml HCl, 15 ml HNO3, 30 ml HF (40%)

5-10 lbs

100/100 rpm

1 minute

Microstructure for niobium

Niobium alloy (BF), etched

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