Quantitative electron probe microanalysis of nonconducting specimens : science or art?

G.F. Bastin, H.J.M. Heijligers

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5 Citations (Scopus)


The influence of a lack of sufficient electrical conductivity on the results of quantitative electron probe microanalysis has been investigated on a number of oxides. The effect of surface charging and the way it alters the emitted X-ray signals has been studied. It is shown that the presence of conducting coatings, such as carbon or copper, will affect the interelement X-ray intensity ratios, whatever the thickness of the coating may be. Although the effects for heavier elements may be acceptable, they cannot be ignored for a light element such as oxygen, where strong variations with coating thickness were observed. Quantitative analyses of oxygen, on uncoated well-conducting oxide specimens, using uncoated well-conducting hematite (Fe2O3) as a standard yielded excellent results in the range between 4 and 40 kV with the [curly or open phi]([rho]z) software used. As soon as coated nonconducting specimens were examined, using the same hematite standard, coated under exactly the same conditions, widely scattering and noncoherent results were obtained. These discrepancies can only be attributed to a lack of conductivity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)733-738
JournalMicroscopy and Microanalysis
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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