Reliable and consistent preparation of atom probe tomography (APT) specimens from aqueous and hydrated biological specimens remains a significant challenge. One particularly difficult process step is the use of a focused ion beam (FIB) instrument for preparing the required needle-shaped specimen, typically involving a “lift-out” procedure of a small sample of material. Here, two alternative substrate designs are introduced that enable using FIB only for sharpening, along with example APT datasets. The first design is a laser-cut FIB-style half-grid close to those used for transmission-electron microscopy, that can be used in a grid holder compatible with APT pucks. The second design is a larger, standalone self-supporting substrate called a “crown,” with several specimen positions that self-aligns in APT pucks, prepared by electrical discharge machining (EDM). Both designs are made nanoporous, to provide strength to the liquid-substrate interface, using chemical and vacuum dealloying. We select alpha brass a simple, widely available, lower-cost alternative to previously proposed substrates. We present the resulting designs, APT data, and provide suggestions to help drive wider community adoption.

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