Month: July 2023

Embracing the return

Dr. Shangshang Mu, Application Scientist, Gatan/EDAX

Over the past year, I’ve rekindled my enjoyment of traveling as I visited customers in the Americas, Asia, and across Europe. During my return journey, I was deeply touched by an airline billboard at the Munich, Germany airport that read, “We all live under one sun. Let’s see it again.” Indeed, it is genuinely nice to see the world once more since reemerging from the pandemic.

While flying over Hudson Bay, an inland marginal sea of the Arctic Ocean, I saw numerous ice caps floating on the water from the aircraft’s belly camera view. To me, these were very reminiscent of the counts per second (CPS) map (Figure 1) in one of the wavelength dispersive spectrometry (WDS) datasets I shared with customers during these trips. Although they were orders of magnitude larger than the micron-scale sample, the resemblance was striking.

Figure 1. Ice caps in Hudson Bay (left) resemble the CPS map of a Si-W-Ta sample (right).

Throughout these journeys, our EDAX Lambda WDS system was one of the hot topics drawing customers’ attention. This parallel beam spectrometer features a compact design compatible with almost every scanning electron microscope (SEM). The improved energy resolution and sensitivity and lower limits of detection make it an excellent supplement to your energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) detectors. The CPS map I referred to was captured from a Si-W-Ta sample. The energy peaks of Si K, W M, and Ta M are heavily overlapped, with only approximately 30 eV energy difference between each other. Lambda WDS systems provide up to 15x better energy resolution than typical EDS systems, effectively resolving the ambiguity in analysis.

Figure 2. Overlay of EDS (red outline) and WDS (cyan color) spectra from the central area of the Si-W-Ta sample.

The overlay of EDS/WDS spectra from the central area of the map shows that the Lambda WDS system intrinsically resolves the overlapping EDS peaks (red outline), as depicted by the cyan color WDS spectrum (Figure 2). The shortcoming of EDS in resolving these overlapping peaks results in the distributions of the three elements appearing identical in EDS maps. However, the WDS maps provide clear and distinct visualizations of the individual distributions of the three elements (Figure 3).

Figure 3. EDS (top) and WDS (bottom) maps of the Si-W-Ta sample. The WDS maps resolve the artifacts due to Ta M, Si K, and W M peak overlaps in the EDS maps.

This year’s M&M meeting is just around the corner. If you are traveling to this entirely in-person event, stop by our booth (#504) to check out our integrated EDS-WDS SEM solutions and many other products that will capture your interest.