Sample preparation

Sample preparation requirements:

Samples suitable for electron microscopy need to:

  • be able to withstand vacuum
  • be stable under the electron beam
  • either be conductive or have a conductive coating

Samples suitable for quantitative microanalysis need to :

  • be perfectly flat and highly polished (final grit size < 1 µm), commonly referred to as mirror polish.

Samples sizes:

The size and shape of the sample are constrained by the type of sample holders that are available. We have a variety of sample holders that can accommodate the following samples:

  • Six to nine 1’’ (25.4 mm) diameter cylindrical mounts or plugs. Minimum thickness is 2 mm; maximum thickness is 2 cm.
  • Four 1.25 ‘’ (31.75 mm) diameter of cylindrical samples
  • Four to six 1’’ x 1.8’’ (25.4 mm x 45 mm) thin sections. Maximum thickness of the slide: 0.05’’ or 1.2 mm.
  • Custom-sized samples can also be accommodated. Check specifics of your sample size and shape with the Lab Manager.

Further Literature on EPMA sample preparation

  • Echlin, P., 2011. Handbook of sample preparation for scanning electron microscopy and X-ray microanalysis. Springer Science & Business Media.
  • Geller, J.D. and Engle, P.D., 2002. Sample Preparation for Electron Probe Microanalysis—Pushing the Limits. Journal of research of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, 107(6), p.627
  • Jana, D., 2006, April. Sample preparation techniques in petrographic examinations of construction materials: A state-of-the-art review. In Proceedings of the twenty-eighth Conference on Cement Microscopy (p. 48).
  • Hall, M. and Hayward, C., 2014. Preparation of micro-and crypto-tephras for quantitative microbeam analysis. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 398(1), pp.21-28.
  • McCall, J. ed., 2012. Metallographic specimen preparation: optical and electron microscopy. Springer Science & Business Media.
  • Rémond, G., Nockolds, C., Phillips, M. and Roques-Carmes, C., 2002. Implications of polishing techniques in quantitative X-ray microanalysis. Journal of research of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, 107(6), p.639.
  • Richter, S. Mayer, J., 2012. Sample preparation for EPMA. EMAS2012,  10th Regional Workshop on Electron Probe Microanalysis Today.
  • Taggart, J.E., 1977. Polishing technique for geologic samples. American Mineralogist, 62(7-8), pp.824-827.
  • Teague, T., 1989. An improved technique for polishing difficult geological materials using a colloidal silica suspension. Journal of Sedimentary Research, 59(4), p.635.

Further web content on sample preparation:

Tech notes from various vendors: