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.

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