Elemental and magnetic imaging using X-rays and a microscope

Jun 14, 2012

A team of researchers has developed a new microscope that can image the elemental and magnetic properties of a wide range of energy-important materials that are used in devices such as solar cells and solid-state lighting.

The imager is based on a technique known as X-ray excited luminescence microscopy (XELM). It was created by hitching a standard to a synchrotron X-ray source. Synchrotrons produce X-rays and other forms of electromagnetic radiation by sending electrons on a curved path at nearly the speed of light.

When the X-rays strike the material being imaged, some of them are absorbed, which causes the sample to luminesce. The microscope portion of the imager is able to detect differences in this luminescence, which is directly related to both the elements in the sample and their magnetic properties. This technique combines the spatial resolution of with the element and magnetic specificity and precision of synchrotron radiation.

It is able to spatially resolve features as small as one micron. However, this value was degraded in practice due to vibrations or subtle shifting of the systems used to direct the X-ray beam, though future refinements should alleviate any stability issues.

XELM has some advantages over other techniques in that it is especially useful at low temperatures and can image in the presence of electric and magnetic fields. The results were accepted for publication in the American Institute of Physics' journal .

Explore further: The unifying framework of symmetry reveals properties of a broad range of physical systems

More information: "Elemental and magnetic sensitive imaging using x-ray excited luminescence microscopy" Review of Scientific Instruments.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New technique to see crystals like never before

Nov 30, 2011

An international team of scientists led by the Fresnel Institute and the ESRF (European Synchrotron Radiation Facility) in Grenoble has developed a new technique allowing to observe the nanometer-sized structure ...

Recommended for you

What time is it in the universe?

Aug 29, 2014

Flavor Flav knows what time it is. At least he does for Flavor Flav. Even with all his moving and accelerating, with the planet, the solar system, getting on planes, taking elevators, and perhaps even some ...

Watching the structure of glass under pressure

Aug 28, 2014

Glass has many applications that call for different properties, such as resistance to thermal shock or to chemically harsh environments. Glassmakers commonly use additives such as boron oxide to tweak these ...

Inter-dependent networks stress test

Aug 28, 2014

Energy production systems are good examples of complex systems. Their infrastructure equipment requires ancillary sub-systems structured like a network—including water for cooling, transport to supply fuel, and ICT systems ...

Explainer: How does our sun shine?

Aug 28, 2014

What makes our sun shine has been a mystery for most of human history. Given our sun is a star and stars are suns, explaining the source of the sun's energy would help us understand why stars shine. ...

User comments : 0