New Electron Microprobe Installed on Carnegie's Broad Branch Road Campus

Electron Microprobe
Monday, March 16, 2015 


A joint effort between DTM and the Geophysical Laboratory has led to the purchase of a new, state-of-the-art field emission electron microprobe.

The basic instrument was funded by a one million dollar grant by the Earth Sciences Division of the National Science Foundation (NSF). Additional attachments planned to be added in the future to the microprobe were funded by NASA. 

The new JEOL 8530F probe was delivered to Carnegie's Broad Branch Road campus at the beginning of March 2015. Photo by Katherine Crispin. 

This system is being installed this month in the newly renovated electron beam instrument facility in the 101-year-old Abelson Building on the Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Broad Branch Road Campus. The newly constructed laboratory reflects another joint funding venture between DTM and GL partially supported by the NSF’s ARI-R² program grant, obtained in 2010 by former Directors Russell Hemley and Sean Solomon. The grant was shepherded by former DTM Director Linda Elkins-Tanton and Hemley to allow completion of the facility that now houses the new electron-probe, a JEOL 6500F scanning electron microscope, and the Zeiss-Auriga combination focused ion-beam scanning electron microscope. 

"Carnegie is now one of only six Earth Science institutions in North America with this latest JEOL 8530F probe."

For more than 40 years, electron microprobe analysis has played a central role in the on-going research activities at the Carnegie Institution of Washington. In fact, GL was one of the early pioneers in the development of the automated electron microprobe for mineral analysis in the early 1970’s. The 20-year-old electron microprobe on campus, while still heavily used, had fallen sufficiently behind in its capabilities, especially in its ability to make accurate concentration measurements at very high spatial resolution, compared to modern instruments that an upgrade was necessary.

A JEOL engineer checks the installation of the new microprobe in BBR's newly renovated electron beam facility. Photo by Dave Videchak, JEOL.  

John Armstrong, GL's microbeam specialist, led the effort for the new instrument procurement, along with his GL colleagues Anat Shahar and Yingwei Fei, and DTM’s Conel Alexander, Steven Shirey, and Larry Nittler

“We can now look at an order of magnitude smaller analysis spots (0.3 microns) and thereby study smaller minerals, experimental textures, and narrower diffusion profiles.” - John Armstrong 

The new JEOL JXA-8530F Automated Field Emission Electron Microprobe will allow scientific staff, postdoctoral fellows, and visiting scientists to conduct automated, high resolution quantitative elemental microanalysis, multi-spectral imaging, and low-energy x-ray emission measurements. The higher resolution and sensitivity of in-situ chemical analysis will enable cutting-edge research across the spectrum of DTM and GL research. Carnegie is now one of only six Earth Science institutions in North America with this latest JEOL 8530F probe.

“We can now look at an order of magnitude smaller analysis spots (0.3 microns) and thereby study smaller minerals, experimental textures, and narrower diffusion profiles,” said Armstrong about the new electron microprobe. “It also has other advanced mapping and spectral analysis capabilities that will be useful in creating new scientific results that we can’t yet foresee. 

Two JEOL engineers will be testing the new instrument through the month. Photo by Dave Videchak, JEOL.  

On a broader level, the new system is designed with easy operating procedures that enable precise and sensitive analyses by researchers of variable skill levels. Carnegie has a long tradition of sharing analytical facilities with visiting users from other institutions. This tradition will allow the new instrument to become a defacto regional and national resource for mineral physics, experimental petrologic, geochemical, and cosmochemical researchers.

Written by Robin A. Dienel, 16 March 2015



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