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    Hodoroaba, Vasile-Dan and Rackwitz, Vanessa 2014. Gaining Improved Chemical Composition by Exploitation of Compton-to-Rayleigh Intensity Ratio in XRF Analysis. Analytical Chemistry, Vol. 86, Issue. 14, p. 6858.


Compton Scattering Artifacts in Electron Excited X-Ray Spectra Measured with a Silicon Drift Detector

  • Nicholas W.M. Ritchie (a1), Dale E. Newbury (a1) and Abigail P. Lindstrom (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 09 November 2011

Artifacts are the nemesis of trace element analysis in electron-excited energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry. Peaks that result from nonideal behavior in the detector or sample can fool even an experienced microanalyst into believing that they have trace amounts of an element that is not present. Many artifacts, such as the Si escape peak, absorption edges, and coincidence peaks, can be traced to the detector. Others, such as secondary fluorescence peaks and scatter peaks, can be traced to the sample. We have identified a new sample-dependent artifact that we attribute to Compton scattering of energetic X-rays generated in a small feature and subsequently scattered from a low atomic number matrix. It seems likely that this artifact has not previously been reported because it only occurs under specific conditions and represents a relatively small signal. However, with the advent of silicon drift detectors and their utility for trace element analysis, we anticipate that more people will observe it and possibly misidentify it. Though small, the artifact is not inconsequential. Under some conditions, it is possible to mistakenly identify the Compton scatter artifact as approximately 1% of an element that is not present.

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A. Compton (1923). A quantum theory of the scattering of X-rays by light elements. Phys Rev 21(5), 483502.

J. Goldstein , D. Newbury , D. Joy , C. Lyman , P. Echlin , E. Lifshin , L. Sawyer & J. Michael (2003). Scanning Electron Microscopy and X-Ray Microanalysis. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.

O. Klein & Y. Nishina (1928). The scattering of light by free electrons according to Dirac's new relativistic dynamics. Nature 122, 398399.

R.E. Knop (1970). Random vectors uniform in solid angle. Commum ACM 13, 326327.

A.R. Wilson & L.T. Lambrianidis (1990). Compton-scattering X-ray artifacts observed in an STEM with high take-off angle EDS detector. J Microsc-Oxford 160(Pt 1), 17.

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Microscopy and Microanalysis
  • ISSN: 1431-9276
  • EISSN: 1435-8115
  • URL: /core/journals/microscopy-and-microanalysis
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