Probe Microanalysers

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An electron microprobe (EMP), also known as an electron probe microanalyser (EPMA) or electron micro probe analyser (EMPA), is an analytical tool for determining the chemical composition of small volumes of solid materials. A sample of material is bombarded with an electron beam, emitting x-rays at wavelengths characteristic to the elements being analysed.  This enables the abundances of elements present within small sample volumes (typically 10 to 30 cubic micrometres, or less) to be determined.  The concentrations of elements from beryllium to plutonium can be measured at levels as low as 100 parts per million (ppm).

ICAM equipment includes:

  • Cameca SX 100 Electron Microprobes at the Universities of Cambridge and Manchester, an energy dispersive spectrometer for micron-scale analysis of elements from Be to U.
  • JEOL JXA-8530F EPMA at The University of Manchester, a non-destructive technique to determine quantitatively the chemical composition of a sample.

Auger electron spectroscopy (AES) is an analytical technique used specifically in the study of surfaces exploiting the Auger effect, the analysis of energetic electrons emitted from an excited atom after a series of internal relaxation events. Semi-quantitative compositional and element analysis of a sample using AES is dependent on measuring the yield of Auger electrons during a probing event.  Scanning Auger microscopes (SAMs) can produce high resolution, spatially resolved chemical images obtained by stepping a focused electron beam across a sample surface and measuring the intensity of the Auger peak.

ICAM equipment includes:

  • Physical Electronics model PHI 660 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Elemental mapping with high spatial resolution and is capable of performing scanning electron microscopy (SEM).  Equipped with an in situ impact fracture stage for analysis of grain boundaries and other internal surfaces.