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Tutorial Review: X-ray Mapping in Electron-Beam Instruments

  • John J. Friel (a1) and Charles E. Lyman (a2)

This review traces the development of X-ray mapping from its beginning 50 years ago through current analysis procedures that can reveal otherwise obscure elemental distributions and associations. X-ray mapping or compositional imaging of elemental distributions is one of the major capabilities of electron beam microanalysis because it frees the operator from the necessity of making decisions about which image features contain elements of interest. Elements in unexpected locations, or in unexpected association with other elements, may be found easily without operator bias as to where to locate the electron probe for data collection. X-ray mapping in the SEM or EPMA may be applied to bulk specimens at a spatial resolution of about 1 μm. X-ray mapping of thin specimens in the TEM or STEM may be accomplished at a spatial resolution ranging from 2 to 100 nm, depending on specimen thickness and the microscope. Although mapping has traditionally been considered a qualitative technique, recent developments demonstrate the quantitative capabilities of X-ray mapping techniques. Moreover, the long-desired ability to collect and store an entire spectrum at every pixel is now a reality, and methods for mining these data are rapidly being developed.

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