Electron Probe X-Ray Microanalyzer (EMPA) Laboratory

Samples Prep

Types of Samples

  • 1″ , 1.25 ” or 1.5 ” round epoxy mounts
  • polished thin-sections (~30 um thick) or thick-sections (<100 um thick)

 The objective is to produce a surface for analysis that is absolutely flat, highly polished, and squeaky clean.




Common Steps

  1. Cutting of Specimens to size
  2. Mounting the specimen
  3. Labeling the specimen
  4. Grinding the specimen
  5. The initial polish (1 micron diamond, polishing)
  6. The final polish (0.3 micron alumina on cloth)
  7. Carbon coating the samples


Why do we need coating for the samples?

Where an uncoated high-resistive material, i.e. exceeding 10E10 ohm, is subjected to electron probe microanalysis (EPMA), the electrons lose their escape way.  Hence, an electric charge builds up on the surface of the specimen.  This leads to variations in the surface potential, giving rise to the complex and dynamic image artifacts commonly referred to as “charging”.  These artifacts will degrade the resolving power and analytical capabilities of the system by introducing astigmatism, instabilities, undue brightness and spurious z-ray signals.  This situation is made more difficult because many of the adhesives used to attach specimens to the substrate are themselves non-conductors and prevent the electrical charge from leaking away even from conductive samples.  Thus, a thin layer of conductive material (carbon in our lab) material is often applied on the samples prior to observation and analysis to eliminate the problems associated with charging.



We have the professional technical support to help you do this work!

Thin Section Lab Equipment List:

Blue Slab Saw

   Whole Rock Saw

Trimmer Saw

Slow Speed Diamond Saw for small samples

Isomet 4000 Precision Saw

Petrothin Vertical Grinder

Metaserv 250 Grinder and Polisher

Logitec LP30 Precision Grinder

Vibrational Polisher

Email the lab personnel to get booking permissions for the Thin Section Calendar!