Electron Probe Microanalysis Through Coated Oxidized Surfaces

Mike B Matthews, Ben Buse, Stuart L Kearns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Low voltage electron probe microanalysis (EPMA) of metals can be complicated by the presence of a surface oxide. If a conductive coating is applied, analysis becomes one of a three-layer structure. A method is presented which allows for the coating and oxide thicknesses and the substrate intensities to be determined. By restricting the range of coating and oxide thicknesses, tc and to respectively, x-ray intensities can be parameterized using a combination of linear functions of tc and to. tc can be determined from the coating element k-ratio independently of the oxide thickness. to can then be derived from the O k-ratio and tc. From tc and to the intensity components of the k-ratios from the oxide layer and substrate can each be derived. Modeled results are presented for an Ag on Bi2O3 on Bi system, with tc and to each ranging from 5 to 20 nm, for voltages of 5-20 kV. The method is tested against experimental measurements of Ag- or C-coated samples of polished Bi samples which have been allowed to naturally oxidize. Oxide thicknesses determined both before and after coating with Ag or C are consistent. Predicted Bi Mα k-ratios also show good agreement with EPMA-measured values.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1112-1129
Number of pages18
JournalMicroscopy and Microanalysis
Issue number5
Early online date16 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019


  • coating
  • EPMA
  • oxide
  • thin film


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