Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Quantification of STEM-in-SEM Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectra using Bulk Standards



Nicholas Ritchie, Andrew Herzing, Vladimir Oleshko


A quantification model which uses standard X-ray spectra collected from bulk materials to determine the composition and mass-thickness of single-layer and multi-layer unsupported thin- films is presented. The multi-variate model can be iteratively solved for single layers in which each element produces at least one visible characteristic X-ray line. The model can be extended to multi- layer thin films in which each element is associated with only one layer. The model may sometimes be solved when an element is present in multiple layers if additional information is added in the form of independent k-ratios or model assumptions. While the algorithm is suitable for any measured k-ratios, it is particularly well suited to energy-dispersive X-ray spectrometry (EDS) where the bulk standard spectra can be used to deconvolve peak interferences in the thin-film spectra. The algorithm has been implemented and made available in the Open Source application NIST DTSA- II. We present experimental data and Monte Carlo simulations supporting the quantification model.
Microscopy and Microanalysis


Quantitative electron-excited X-ray microanalysis, energy-dispersive spectrometry (EDS), STEM-in-SEM, NIST DTSA-II software, bulk standards, thin films, thickness


Ritchie, N. , Herzing, A. and Oleshko, V. (2023), Quantification of STEM-in-SEM Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectra using Bulk Standards, Microscopy and Microanalysis, [online],, (Accessed July 23, 2024)


If you have any questions about this publication or are having problems accessing it, please contact

Created November 9, 2023, Updated February 2, 2024