The application of analytical SEM and EPMA in the earth sciences

Learn basic theory and practice the methods used in electron beam-based analysis and data. 

Electron beam-based analysis and data interpretation have many applications within earth sciences and beyond.

Understanding how analytical scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and electron probe microanalysis (EPMA) can be used and how the data these instruments produce can be interpreted can unlock breakthroughs in research.

About the course

This four-day course explores electron beam analysis, including interactions between electrons and the specimen, emission of x-rays from the sample, detectors, quantitative analysis, assessing data quality, its interpretation and presentation. The course also covers limitations in analysis, for example in variable pressure and environmental SEMs.

The course will be led by our scientists and analysts who regularly prepare and analyse biological, geological and synthetic material for staff, scientific visitors and consultancy projects.

  • Course contents

    Day 1

    • Why use X-ray microanalysis for mineralogy?; electrons and x-rays, electron microprobe instruments and imaging
    • Sample preparation and coating for microanalysis
    • Introduction to LEO 1455VP - High vacuum vs. variable pressure on coated and uncoated samples; charge dissipation and beam skirting, image acquisition, Kalman averaging, area analysis
    • Introduction to EVO 15 LS - SEI, BEI, CL, EDS quantitative analysis, beam current calibration, point analysis and results of a polished block of garnet biotite schist
    • LEO 1455VP EDS garnet schist map
    • EVO 15LS EDS garnet schist map

    Day 2

    • Results and discussion; comparison of maps and spectra from Si(Li) and SDD; discussion of automation, montages, feature recognition
    • Wavelength dispersive X-ray microanalysis theory and practice
    • Introduction to Cameca SX100 - calibration, Schist analyses
    • EVO 15LS sample imaging and analysis
    • EVO 15LS maps or montages of samples
    • Cameca SX100 analyses of samples

    Day 3

    • Cameca SX100; quant. meteorite silicates and spinels plus other samples 
    • EVO 15LS; images, analyses, 2 or 3 samples 
    • EVO 15LS maps or montages, samples 
    • Cameca SX100 map/analyses, samples 

    Day 4

    • How to process the acquired data
    • Practice of data handling
    • Summing up and feedback

    Please note that while tea and coffee will be available throughout the course, lunch will not be provided.

  • Outcomes

    By the end of this course delegates will be equipped with the skills and ability to make informed decisions about:

    • best practice in sample preparation for analysis
    • beam current measurement and set up for current stability and quant analysis
    • application of secondary and backscattered electron imaging
    • applications for Cathodoluminescence imaging
    • energy dispersive spectrometry (EDS) for mineral analysis
    • wavelength dispersive spectrometry (WDS) for mineral analysis
    • application and use of appropriate analytical standard
    • light element determination and measurement
    • overlaps and interferences in EDS/WDS
    • matrix corrections
    • assessing and quantifying data quality, precision, accuracy and detection limits
    • best practice in presentation of analytical data
    • limitations to EDS when using variable pressure SEM and/or environmental SEM
    • applications of software packages in EPMA


Contact the Training and Development team on +44 (0)207 942 6182 or email us.

New dates coming soon

New dates to be announced soon, please check back for updates on the Museum's training and development courses.

Who is it for?

For postgraduates in the fields of geology, earth sciences and environmental sciences.