Month: November 2015

It’s All About Speed!

Dr. Oleg Lourie, Senior Product Manager EDS, EDAX

Different perceptions of speed can be measured differently, and yet in my opinion speed is one of those few fascinating concepts, which you are always aware of regardless of your activity. The world of speed is enriched with various emotional flavors which generate a multitude of reactions:  curiosity, when I observed the 690m/h cruising speed during my recent flight with KLM (‘are we getting close to 1Mach and when?’), or a contemplative focus when you accelerate to 170m/h on the German Autobahn near Düsseldorf.

In all circumstances speed inevitably arrests your attention, just as blazing fast EDS mapping did for me recently, when I saw a literally staggering acquisition speed below 200 us/pixel, which translated into a 512×400 pixel, fully quantifiable elemental map, which was collected in less than 1 min.

The ‘Octane’ EDS power, that ‘fueled’ this racing performance is equally remarkable – holding above 2Mcps in X-ray input counts without a single complaint  and exploding with 860Kcps for a single channel at about 50% dead time. I should admit I simply enjoyed it. It is inspiring to push the ‘limits’. The new electronics for this system will move things even further by leveling the throughput up to 1.8Mcps for a single channel – literally doubling the processing speed of the system.

1. Phase map of mineral clearly showing separation of zirconium silicate and calcium phosphate phases. 2. Spectrum of zirconium silicate

While astounded at the extreme throughput, a casual observer may wonder where this power can be applied in a ‘daily commute’ for elemental information. The answer is everywhere! It affects all your materials analysis when there are no boundaries imposed by your spectrometer on the scope of your experiment. It is indispensable for setting automated runs where sudden changes in sample composition, geometry or topography can impact acquisition. It aids in the formulation of statistics, where you need the fastest screening to acquire reliable statistical data. It is essential in ‘in situ’ studies where you rapidly change the sample compositional structure during the observation. It is useful in observing live Direct Phase Mapping and showing various phase distributions immediately after the scanned image is acquired. With more than 860 kcps ‘under the hood’, low noise CUBE electronics design and pulse processing times geared from 7.8 us to 120 ns, you can focus on driving your experiment at any speed you can imagine to achieve superior results in less time.

3. Spectrum of calcium phosphate 4. Superimposed spectra of 2 and 3 showing an complete overlap of the P and Zr peaks, which makes them undistinguishable in the RGB elemental map.

With all this ‘Octane’ power to keep your acquisition limits tunable on demand, there are many more exciting experiments further ‘down the road’. And yes, the roads can be icy and slippery in December. It is more fun to race with your fast EDS, collecting powerful, streamlined data and aiming towards the holidays with new observations, and possibly new discoveries.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dr. Stuart Wright, Senior Scientist EBSD, EDAX

In the United States we celebrate a holiday this time of year we call Thanksgiving.  It is one of my favorite holidays as we gather as families to enjoy a celebratory feast and spend time together. I also like it because it is not nearly as commercialized as the surrounding holidays of Halloween and Christmas – although I enjoy those holidays as well. In keeping with the holiday spirit, I want to express some gratitude related to my career in EBSD.

On one of my recent trips I was in Connecticut once again and was able to revisit some of my old grad-school haunts. This has caused me to get a little nostalgic for those years at Yale as I went through the ups and downs of trying to automate EBSD. My colleague from those days, David Field, remarked recently that how many people get to see their PhD research blossom as large as mine has. It has been rewarding to have been a part of the early development and the continued advancements but even more rewarding to see the wide variety of applications. I never imagined back in the early 90s that EBSD would be applied to historical artifacts1, used to determine the temperature of the eggs of dinosaurs2, gain understanding into the behavior of trilobites3 or track the movements of proteins4 to name just a few examples.

The First OIM – Channel Die Compressed Aluminum – December 1991

I also did not anticipate that being involved with EBSD would take me all over the world. Since SEMs are generally located in basements and time is often tight on my trips I often joke that my travels have allowed me to see the great airports and basements of the world. However, that is certainly an exaggeration. My travels have allowed me the opportunity to see some of the great sights of our planet and to learn more about the world’s diverse cultures.  It is fun to visit a lab in some far away corner of the world and then spend the evening after working together to be proudly shown the local sights and tastes by my host.

1) Brent Adams, Karsten Kunze (ETH Zurich) and I receiving the Henry Marion Howe Medal in 1994.
2) Francisco Cruz Gandarilla (Instituto Politécnico Nacional, Mexico) and Lisa Chan (Tescan USA) at Sundance Ski Resort.
3) David Dingley and I with colleagues from TSL Solutions in Tokyo (Adachi-San, Jo-San and Suzuki-San)
4) David Field (Washington State University), Abdul Majeed Mohammed (Business Communications LLC, UAE) at the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi
5) Matt Nowell and I getting a tour of Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul from a local colleague after ICOTOM 13.

This year I’ve also been able to spend some extended time with former colleagues which has been a treat. I am thankful for the many men and women I have had the opportunity to interact with. I feel very fortunate to have worked with such remarkable scientists and have learned so much from them (I wish I had more photos!). I am humbled by their technical abilities but even more appreciative of their generous spirit and kindness.  I am grateful to count them as friends. It helps me view the world in a much more positive light than portrayed on the news.  I chuckle as our politicians try to arrogantly portray themselves as self-made men and women. I certainly am not self-made – I am the product of a good family and friends and colleagues who have shaped my life. I am glad that science and engineering is not done in a vacuum but is a team effort and often makes its greatest leaps forward when teams of people of diverse backgrounds come together.

1Wanhill, R. J. H. “Embrittlement of ancient silver.” Journal of failure analysis and prevention 5.1 (2005): 41-54.
2Eagle, Robert A., et al. “Isotopic ordering in eggshells reflects body temperatures and suggests differing thermophysiology in two Cretaceous dinosaurs.” Nature communications 6 (2015).
3Torney, Clare, Martin R. Lee, and Alan W. Owen. “Microstructure and growth of the lenses of schizochroal trilobite eyes.” Palaeontology 57.4 (2014): 783-799.
4Ogawa, Naoki, et al. “Three-Dimensional Picometer-Scale Motions in Aqueous Solution Visualized by Diffracted Electron Tracking.” Biophysical Journal 104.2 (2013): 526a.