Earth Sciences


Electron Microprobe Laboratory

The Electron Microprobe Laboratory houses a JEOL JXA-733 Superprobe equipped with four wavelength-dispersive X-ray spectrometers, back-scattered and secondary-electron scanning capability, an energy-dispersive system consisting of a detector and image-analysis software, and Advanced MicroBeam automation. These system components are used for both quantitative chemical analysis of solid materials and high-resolution imaging. The original instrument was installed in 1979, but since that time we have replaced or added major components to improve on its functionality. Recent additions include a high-resolution back-scatter detector, a Link/Oxford energy-dispersive system, computer upgrades, and installation of a new automation system purchased from Advanced MicroBeam, which includes complete instrument automation from a Windows platform, new optically-encoded stage and spectrometer motors, and data processing software.

The microprobe laboratory maintains a wide variety of over 200 interlaboratory natural and synthetic standard materials. These include pure elements, alloys, and minerals obtained from the U.S. National Bureau of Standards, the Smithsonian Institution, and other research laboratories. The laboratory is also fully equipped with tools, polishing machines, and equipment for the evaporative coating of samples.

The microprobe lab is used primarily by faculty and students in the Department for analysis of natural and synthetic minerals and glasses. Active areas of faculty research in geology that make use of the microprobe include metamorphism and mountain-belt evolution in California, New Mexico and Antarctica, pressure-temperature mineral stability experiments and metamorphism in Maine and New Mexico, low-temperature fluid-rock interactions, and origin of igneous and metamorphic rocks in Oman and New Zealand. Our instrument is also used by researchers in the SMU Electrical Engineering (study of detector and super-conductor materials) and Anthropology (study of artifacts) Departments, and by geological researchers from other universities and industries in the southwest region.

The microprobe laboratory is operated as a cost center within the Department. At present, on-campus and off-campus users are charged for daytime (supervised) use. SMU graduate students are exempt from these fees if they have no external sources of research support. Commercial (for-profit) users are charged different rates. Rates are adjusted occasionally to reflect increasing costs.

Note: The Electron Microprobe Laboratory is not available at the present time.

Contact Us

Those interested in services provided by the Microprobe Laboratory should contact:

Roy Beavers