Cardiff University Earth Sciences Electron Microbeam Facility

Our Electron Microbeam Facility has two Field Emission Gun Scanning Electron Microscopes (SEMs) and an X-ray Diffractometer (XRD). The SEMs are used for characterization, imaging and in-situ micro-analysis of a wide range of materials. XRD is used for identifying and characterizing minerals from bulk, powdered samples. In addition, we have sample preparation facilities and gold-palladium and carbon coating apparatus for SEM work.


Imaging Platforms

Keywords - Electron Microscopy: Scanning EM (FEG)
Keywords - Other: Everhart-Thornley and In-Lens Secondary Electron imaging | Backscattered Electron imaging | Cathodoluminescence imaging | Energy and Wavelength Dispersive Spectroscpy | micro-XRF analysis | EBSD analysis

Our Zeiss Sigma HD Field Emission Gun Analytical SEM (FEG-ASEM) is used for high-resolution imaging as well as rapid X-ray element mapping and quantitative analysis of elements.

A combination of EDS and WDS (for major and minor elements) and micro-XRF (for trace elements) means complete characterization of elements heavier than carbon can be achieved with high accuracy and precision. Our dual 150 mm2 EDS detectors enable rapid, high-resolution mapping of major and minor elements over relatively large spatial areas. A broad range of geological mineral and pure element standards are available for calibration allowing fully quantitative analyses. Electron Backscatter Diffraction is used for crystal orientation studies. Cathodoluminescence is used for imaging mineral zoning.

We also have a FEI-XL30 FEG-ESEM which is used for SE and BSE imaging and semi-quantitiative EDS chemical analysis under both Low and High Vacuum conditions. Specimen tilting is available on this system.


Keywords - Physical Sciences: Metallurgy/Alloy Development | Nanomaterials | Geology/Mineralogy | Planetary Sciences

We specialise in the application of electron microscopy in Earth and Ocean Sciences. Typical applications include: high resolution Secondary Electron and Backscattered Electron imaging of geological specimens; Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy element mapping of geological thin sections; quantitative Energy Dispersive and Wavelength Dispersive Spectroscopic analysis of geological minerals with calibration standards; micro-XRF chemical analysis and mapping of trace elements; Electron Backscatter Diffraction mapping of geological specimens; Cathodoluminescence imaging of quartz and zircon.

XRD is used in conjunction with electron microscopy for determining which minerals are present in a bulk, powdered sample, and providing approximate mineral abundances.

We also have experience imaging and chemically analysing samples from a wide range of subject areas including Archaeology, Engineering, Physics, Pharmacy, Biology and Chemistry.

Sample Preparation

We have facilities available for geological thin section and embedded and polished block preparation, rock cutting, grinding and milling.

Gold-palladium sputter coating and carbon thermal evaporation coating are available for high vacuum SEM work on non-conducting samples.

Data Analysis

Keywords – Software: ImageJ | Matlab
Keywords – Other: Oxford Instruments Aztec

An offline workstation is available for post-acquisition data analysis.

Shared Access

Our equipment is available for use by Cardiff University personnel, researchers from other academic institutions, and industry partners. Please contact the facility for further information.

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