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SEM/EDS Trace Analysis: Limits Imposed by Fluorescence of the Detector



Dale E. Newbury, Nicholas W. Ritchie, Michael J. Mengason, Keana C. Scott


Elemental trace analysis by electron-excited x-ray spectrometry performed in the scanning electron microscope (SEM) with energy dispersive x-ray spectrometry (EDS) can reach a limit of detection of 0.0005 mass fraction for many elements. Exceptions include elements that occur as materials of construction of the EDS detector, including C, Al, and Si, where unavoidable fluorescence induced during x-ray measurement can substantially raise the limit of detection, often by an order of magnitude or more.
Proceedings Title
Microscopy and Microanalysis 2017
Conference Dates
August 6-10, 2017
Conference Location
St. Louis, MO


energy dispersive x-ray spectrometry, scanning electron microscope, trace analysis, microanalysis


Newbury, D. , Ritchie, N. , Mengason, M. and Scott, K. (2017), SEM/EDS Trace Analysis: Limits Imposed by Fluorescence of the Detector, Microscopy and Microanalysis 2017, St. Louis, MO, [online], (Accessed April 21, 2024)
Created August 4, 2017, Updated January 7, 2020