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White Paper

Solving Problems by Materials Analysis with an Electron Microprobe

The electron microprobe is an electron microbeam instrument similar to an SEM, but different in that it is highly specialised to provide superior accuracy in elemental analysis using the X-ray emissions induced by an electron beam.

The electron microprobe can be an essential tool to provide critical insights needed to answer material questions quickly. Solving difficult materials problems or unraveling a complex failure can be an intensive, and sometimes frustrating, process but elucidating the root cause of an expensive problem is highly rewarding and necessary for success.

The goal is to solve the problem quickly, and at a cost that is insignificant compared to the cost of additional failures. When problems arise with a material in development, or an existing material, deliberate and methodical steps are needed to resolve the situation quickly. Likewise with new or modified processes, or materials that suddenly fail without any apparent changes.

This white paper describes examples of how electron microprobe analysis has been used effectively in problem solving, and provides points to consider when facing problems with materials or processes. Three case studies are briefly discussed to illustrate how the capabilities of the electron microprobe were used to solve the problem quickly and cost effectively. These examples illustrate how methodical approaches to problem solving, microchemical analyses, and collaboration in a cross-functional team have led to rapid identifications of root cause, and successful recovery from difficult situations.

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