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The electron microprobe is located in the Robert MacKay Electron Microprobe Laboratory, which is located in the Earth Sciences department in the Life Sciences Centre.
An electron microprobe is capable of providing quantitative chemical analysis of solid samples as small as a few micro-metres in diameter. The technique is non-destructive, rapid (typically one minute per analysis), and in situ (providing spatial/textural context for the analysis). The Dalhousie Regional Electron Microprobe has served the micro-analytical needs of the scientific community in Nova Scotia, and beyond, since 1971.
The current instrument is a fully automated JEOL 8200 electron microprobe, installed in 2002, and equipped with five wavelength spectrometers, a Noran (133ev resolution) energy dispersive spectrometer, and a cathodoluminescence photomultiplier. This instrument provides qualitative and quantitative chemical analyses of solid materials such as minerals, glasses, ceramics, and metals, for elements ranging from boron to uranium. The instrument can produce several types of image, including: secondary electrons ( Fig. 1 ), backscattered electrons ( Fig. 2 ), characteristic X-ray elemental maps ( Fig.3 ), and cathodoluminescence ( Fig.4 ). A Sun Ultra 10 computer controls the electron microprobe for the acquisition of data, images, and elemental maps. An integrated image analysis system processes these images to provide quantitative data on abundance, size, shape, and orientation of phases. The particle analysis software combines image analysis and chemical analysis to automatically identify particles. Other available software includes phase analysis and thin film analysis. The data processing software is accessible through a remote terminal to permit data manipulation while another probe user is operating the instrument. The related sample preparation laboratory contains facilities for polishing, cleaning, and carbon-coating materials.
Current Research Projects
- x-ray mapping and chemical dating of monazite
- niobium and tantalum trace concentrations in rutiles
- analysis of apatite in relation to fission track studies
- chemical partitioning in deep-sea corals and foraminifera for climate studies
- analysis of elemental thin films for electrochemical applications
- characterization of powder metallurgy alloys
- analysis of glass and porcelain for geoarchaeology applications
- metamict zircons and their Th-rich inclusions
- identification of heavy minerals in Scotian shelf sediments for provenance studies
- mineralogical changes during weathering / element mobility in the environment
Department of Earth Sciences
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada,
Phone (902) 494-7087/2358
Please address inquiries to: