Electron Microbeam & X-Ray Diffraction Facility (EMXDF)

The Electron Microbeam/X-ray Diffraction Facility is an integration of three laboratories comprising our Cameca SX50 electron microprobe, Philips XL-30 scanning electron microscope/Bruker Quantax 200 energy-dispersion X-ray microanalysis system, and Bruker AXS D8 Focus and D8 Advance X-ray powder diffractometers. Two preparation laboratories with a carbon evaporator unit, micronising mill, spray drier, and equipment support these operations.

The electron microprobe, scanning electron microscope and preparation laboratory are housed in a specially-built low-vibration ground-floor laboratory complex with air conditioning and clean-air system; the X-ray powder diffractometers and preparation laboratory are housed elsewhere. These three laboratories have been merged into a modern analytical facility for the comprehensive characterization of minerals and materials.  Research Scientist Jacob Kabel oversees the facilities and is supported by full-time Research Scientists Elisabetta Pani, Jenny Lai, Edith Czech, and Lan Kato.

Clients of the facility include researchers from within the department; other departments at The University of British Columbia, University of Victoria, Simon Fraser University, Western Washington University; Federal and Provincial governments; and a cohort of private sector parties both local and international. Graduate and undergraduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty are trained not only to operate the instrument but also in all aspects of this method of analysis, including analytical strategy, data acquisition, data reduction and interpretation of the results.

The facility provides analytical services to the private sector. Although quantitative phase analysis using the Rietveld method for exploration/mining, mineral processing and problems of environmental remediation is a major focus, a range of services is available for clients from other engineering & technical fields and from various industries in the high-technology sector.

Sample Submission

Quantitative Analysis by Powder X-Ray Diffraction (Rietveld)

Samples submitted for Rietveld analysis should consist of 5-10g of pulped material with a particle size less than 420um (40 mesh).

Electron Probe Microanalysis

Samples for the microprobe should be either polished thin/thick sections, or polished pucks.  Pucks of 25mm diameter are preferred.  Samples should be submitted uncoated, and a carbon coating will be applied in-house.

Scanning Electron Microscopy

Samples for the SEM should be clean and dry, free of any oils or contaminants.  Our system readily accepts small grains of material or flat sections, but does not accommodate tall or heavy samples particularly well.


Electron microprobe

The laboratory is centered on a fully-automated Cameca SX50 Scanning Electron Microprobe with 4 vertical wavelength-dispersion X-ray spectrometers and a fully-integrated SAMx energy-dispersion X-ray spectrometer. One of the spectrometers has two layered dispersion elements (W/Si, Ni/C), which allow the quantitative analysis of the light elements (F, O, N, C, B). There are standards for virtually all elements and common alloys. The instrument can produce X-ray element maps from EDS or WDS spectrometers, backscattered electron images, and secondary electron images.

Scanning electron microscope

A Philips XL30 electron microscope (Bruker Quantax 200 energy-dispersion X-ray microanalysis system, XFlash 6010 SDD detector, Robinson cathodoluminescence detector) shares the clean lab with the microprobe, and allows quick examination and digital imaging of minerals and materials at both low and high magnifications using secondary electrons, backscattered electrons, characteristic X-rays, and cathodoluminescence signals.

X-ray powder diffractometer

Our Bruker D8 Focus (0-20, LynxEye detector) and D8 Advance (0-0, LynxEye XE detector) diffractometers allow quick collection of diffraction data for the characterization of single mineral powders or mixtures of minerals from whole-rock powders. Diffraction data may be processed by automated 'search-match' software which makes use of the International Centre for Diffraction Data PDF-4+ database. Quantitative phase analysis of mixtures using the Rietveld method may be done using Bruker Topas software.