A significant challenge for biological electron microscopists has always been the interpretation of complex structures from two-dimensional images. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) is normally used for imaging the surface of cells, tissues and whole multicellular organisms. SEM images of surfaces appear to be three-dimensional (3D) but there is no measurable depth information... continue reading
We have the ability to look at all sorts of different sample types with AZtecFeature – particles, inclusions, and solid samples to name a few. One of the key parameters that we have to decide upon when determining our analytical conditions for an AZtecFeature analysis is what magnification to use. This is a really important parameter for a number of reasons. Firstly... continue reading
Welcome back to our second ever ‘Year in Review’. Last year we promised 2019 would be bigger and better, and we have certainly managed to exceed expectations with new products, more webinars, and attending a record number of events. Read on to see a run-down of the best activities from last year… continue reading
This Christmas at Oxford Instruments, we decided to do something special for our staff – we created a little competition using some Holiday themed items and an Electron Microscope. Participants had to guess what we had put in the microscope, and if they got it right then they were entered into a prize draw.... continue reading
In many research areas there is a requirement to get a quick overview of the features present in a large sample in order to identify features of interest (i.e., finding the needles in the haystack), and then to focus in on these to conduct a more in-depth investigation. This can be easily achieved if... continue reading
M2T is much more than just TEM quantification, it is a process that allows you to measure the thickness of TEM samples directly from your EDS spectra. This may sound rather trivial, but in reality, this was previously only achievable via EELS (a technique that can cost up to $1,000,000) and opens up a new dimension to... continue reading
From the most important perspective, that of the user, standardless analysis is any method that provides a quantitative composition from EDS data without the need for the user to standardise. That means not needing to keep and maintain a set of certified standards for different elements that are used to standardise the analysis of each... continue reading
In order to gain the fullest possible understanding of a rock, it is often necessary to gather information from hundreds, if not thousands of grains to build an accurate statistical picture of the relative proportions of the different minerals that are present within it and how they relate to one another. This is equally true if you’re looking at a polished section of a rock from a research point of view or looking at a particle mount to work out how to optimise a minerals processing plant... continue reading
A lot of current development projects are influenced by political decisions related to CO2 emissions and climate change. Most countries have targets for the reduction of CO2 emissions and this means that a lot of interesting work is being done in order to move towards making renewable energy more widely used and to reduce the emissions generated by vehicles.
One area of focus is to make EVs (electrical vehicles) more widely used than combustion engines. This involves solving a lot of issues... continue reading
In heavily regulated industries, there is a continuous requirement to limit environmental impact, reduce costs and increase safety. Optimising the materials to meet these challenges, requires detailed analysis so that the fundamental material structure and composition can be understood. In order to address these challenges in modern, fast, development environments, analytical techniques must be able to deliver fast and accurate characterisations... continue reading
To deliver the best sample quality during FIB lift-out the lamella is often rotated to optimise milling direction. Standard recipes have been calculated for common lamella re-orientations, such as plane view and backside thinning. Here we look at a non-standard geometry and how once a workflow is established it becomes routine... continue reading
As I mentioned in my last blog on AZtecFeature, automated feature analysis is a powerful tool for understanding samples consisting of particles/inclusions/grains/features. It can be used to understand the details of large populations – giving information on the relative abundance of different constituents or to find rare features amongst many others – perhaps contaminants that shouldn’t be there or a key piece of evidence... continue reading
The EBSD technique is constantly changing and it feels as if we are once again going through a period of rapid and significant development. As is often the case, detector technology is the driving force: the introduction of high-speed CMOS technology, led by the launch of the Symmetry detector more than 2 years ago, enables researchers to characterise their samples in a matter of minutes, or to map large areas at unprecedented resolutions... continue reading
To optimise conditions of analysis a longer working distance was needed for the large area mapping, and a shorter working distance for TKD. In both cases, EBSD results could be improved by moving the detector to optimise the position of the pattern centre, thus delivering the best results... continue reading
Whilst NASA are marking the Apollo 11 50th anniversary on the 20th of July in many ways, notably with the restoration of the Johnson Space Centre flight operations room as it was back in the day, we here at Oxford Instruments are celebrating the 60th anniversary of our company, starting in 1959 as a spin-off from Oxford University. To celebrate both of these events, we are collaborating with Plymouth Electron Microscopy Centre (PEMC) to characterise a lunar meteorite... continue reading
The particles that are in the air that we breathe are a topic of huge global interest – barely a day goes by where we do not see a swathe of headlines on the health impacts of exposure to consistently high levels of airborne particulate matter (PM).
According to data from the World Health Organisation (WHO), 91% of people live in areas where annual mean concentrations of urban PM is higher than recommended limits and in excess of 8 million of deaths, from causes such as heart attack, stroke, respiratory infections and lung cancer. .. continue reading
Every time we develop and launch a new product, we pore over the performance specifications and make sure that it meets our desired targets. These specifications are then placed front and centre of any marketing campaign, especially those that we feel will “beat” any competitor system. It’s no great surprise to then have tender specifications for a whole host of microanalysis products such as EDS and EBSD systems being based on supposedly key specifications such as speed, resolution, sensor size or hit rate. But do these specifications really matter... continue reading
Biological energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry (EDS) is a growing field of interest but can be challenging for biologists new to this field. It was for me when I started to use this technique. I came from a background of biological electron microscopy where EDS was extremely niche, but the applications of EDS for biological samples have expanded exponentially since then. Developments in windowless detector technology have significantly increased sensitivity to light elements typical of biological samples and, combined with the ability to operate at low accelerating voltages in a scanning electron microscope (SEM), has resulted in exciting opportunities for biological EDS. Here are a few tips and tricks for getting started... continue reading
As I said in my last post, EDS technology is developing ever more rapidly, with new hardware and software promising ever more sensitive and high-speed analysis.
Another common question concerns the interpretation of the fine detail in X-ray maps, and whether this is really showing a new level of detail in the variation of elements in a sample. The answer is that the latest EDS systems collecting data in the order of many 100,000 cps are sensitive enough to see minor variations... continue reading
Today is international day for biological diversity! I am a biological electron microscopist by training and I am always fascinated by the amazing diversity of natural structures that can be seen when putting samples in an electron microscope. For example, the composite image of different pollen grains as seen with a scanning electron microscope shows a huge variety in the pollen from our garden and household plants. At all scales of life, structure is an inherent part of how all living things function, from animals, plants, organs, cells, bacteria, viruses, proteins and macromolecules. There is a massive diversity within organisms as well as within species... continue reading
Automated Feature analysis is a powerful tool that automates a process which we normally perform manually. When we only want to investigate a few features then that manual approach is fine, but if we want to analyse hundreds or thousands of features then an automated approach is necessary... continue reading
With today being International Earth day, I thought I would reflect on the role that Oxford Instruments plays in the exploration for a deeper understanding of our home planet formation, explaining its history and provide solutions to some of the environmental challenges we face that threaten the earth’s future... continue reading
It never ceases to amaze me how scientists get hooked by EBSD: many of the prominent characters were already pushing the development of EBSD when I started using the technique, 25 years ago, and I’m sure many in the current EBSD community will still be closely involved in another couple of decades’ time... continue reading
I spend a lot of my time travelling the world and speaking to customers about their research and how to help support them with our solutions. Surprisingly, (to me, at least), the most common questions I get asked aren't to do with the data at all. Instead, customers are asking how to make reporting changes. Based on this, I've created a couple of videos to help with these... continue reading
You'd be foolish not to read our new Blog! The AutoPhaseMap module of AZtec finds different characteristic composition from X-ray map data, and determines the distribution, area, constituent elements and composition of each of these areas or phases. As well as creating some compelling imagery... continue reading
Focused ion beam (FIB) preparation of site-specific TEM samples is a well-established method. However, obstacles to making a good TEM lamella remain. Our FIB Product Manager, Dr John Lindsay talks us through common challenges faced when trying to prepare a high-quality FIB sample and the solutions for them... continue reading
EDS technology is developing ever more rapidly, with new hardware and software promising ever more sensitive and high-speed analysis.
This leads to a common question about the best parameters to use for acquisition and what conditions should be used to ensure accurate analysis. There is no right answer to this question, as it depends on many factors, however its really easy to find out yourself and I always recommend this... continue reading
March 10th was Solar Appreciation Day. It gives us a fantastic opportunity to bring attention to the value of solar energy and its applications.
The main advantage of using solar energy is to provide a sustainable and clean source of energy which reduces pollution and the use of fossil fuels... continue reading
In situ experimentation is becoming increasingly commonplace with the advancement of in situ TEM sample holders. These holders allow us to manipulate the environment surrounding a TEM sample to incite and observe material changes. The introduction of AZtecTEM Live, in combination with in situ sample holders, allows us to watch live X-ray maps during in situ experiments to observe chemical changes as they occur– rather than after the event... continue reading
There are many challenges with imaging biological specimens using electron microscopy and most of them also apply to energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry (EDS). The interior of an electron microscope is a hostile environment for life, the vacuum and high energy electron beam are both destructive for the soft materials in most biological samples. As biologists, we want to capture data that is as close to the living state as possible, which means careful preservation of our specimens to avoid changing their structure and contents. This is particularly important when we need to preserve elemental composition... continue reading
When I started out in electron microscopy 20 years ago, I listened to a talk my supervisor gave to a lay audience where he explained why he had dedicated his life to exploring the nanoworld through the electron microscope. He recalled how as a child he had been fascinated by the thirst for knowledge and adventure that drove early explorers to sail their ships around the globe to discover new worlds. He drew the comparison between the explorers of old and the electron microscopists of today and how electron microscopes are the ships for today’s explorers, transporting them into the nanoworld where there are still plenty of things to be discovered... continue reading
Science and technology are the driving forces for change in our ever-progressing society. With near enough a global gender ratio of 1:1, there is a disproportionate number of women choosing to build careers in STEM-related fields compared to their male counterparts. In light of this – the United Nations General Assembly declared February 11 as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. This day allows us to shine a light on the achievements of women and girls in STEM – and what a great opportunity it is to highlight some of the talented women working in science here with us at Oxford Instruments NanoAnalysis... continue reading
It's been a fantastic year here at the Oxford Instruments NanoAnalysis family.
From Ruby anniversaries to refurbishments and new products (including one amazing lego replica), 2018 brought a lot of excitement. In the first of our new NanoAnalysis blog series, take a look back at the past 12 months and see what we got up to... continue reading