Geobadgers Receive New Electron Probe

Over Thanksgiving break, an18-wheeler delivered a CAMECA SXFive Field Emission electron probe to Weeks Hall. Funding for the probe involved two steps, first an internal UE competition for one of two slots in the NSF MRI (Major Research Instrumentation) competition in 2012, followed by a nation-wide competition at NSF, where the Department was notified in May 2013 that is was receiving $1M toward the instrument. Visits to the vendors ensued, followed by a bid process, building the instrument, and, finally, delivery. The PI’s for the proposal were John Fournelle, John Valley, Laurel Goodwin, Brad Singer, and Chang-Beom Eom of Materials Science. Significant contributions also came from the Department of Geoscience, the College of Engineering, and the Graduate School via WARF. This is Geoscience’s fourth probe; Gene Cameron purchased the first, an ARL EMX, in 1966 and hired Everett Glover to run it (Everett just turned 98 and lives in Portland). The new probe is the first of CAMECA’s new line in North America, as well as being the first CAMECA field emission instrument in the US. UW benefits from the presence in Fitchburg of the company’s North America headquarters – the former site of IMAGO, Tom Kelly’s atom probe startup, which was subsumed by CAMECA several years ago. The SXFive will replace the 22-year-old CAMECA SX51 instrument. The field emission gun gives greater flexibility and the ability to analyze regions smaller than one micron, perhaps down to ~300 nanometers in some cases. The tighter, “brighter” beam can produce images of features down to tens of nanometers. The x-rays generated, used for chemical analysis, reflect a larger volume of sample. The new probe has been immediately put to research, where, for example, grad student Phil Gopon is using the instrument in his doctoral research with John Fournelle and John Valley, working on submicron metallic blebs in lunar regolith material.

 

Brian Hess carefully removes one of the crates flown in from France.
Brian Hess carefully removes one of the crates flown in from France.
John Fournelle examines a 10 micron feature in a Norwegian symplectite.
John Fournelle examines a 10 micron feature in a Norwegian symplectite.
Lunar plagioclase grain full of Fe-silicides and Si metal, being studied by Phil Gopon.
Lunar plagioclase grain full of Fe-silicides and Si metal, being studied by Phil Gopon.