Elemental and magnetic imaging using X-rays and a microscope


A team of researchers has developed a new microscope that can image the elemental and magnetic properties of a wide range of energy-important materials that are used in devices such as solar cells and solid-state lighting.

The imager is based on a technique known as X-ray excited luminescence microscopy (XELM). It was created by hitching a standard optical microscope to a synchrotron X-ray source. Synchrotrons produce X-rays and other forms of electromagnetic radiation by sending electrons on a curved path at nearly the speed of light.

When the X-rays strike the material being imaged, some of them are absorbed, which causes the sample to luminesce. The microscope portion of the imager is able to detect differences in this luminescence, which is directly related to both the elements in the sample and their magnetic properties. This technique combines the spatial resolution of optical microscopy with the element and magnetic specificity and precision of synchrotron radiation.

It is able to spatially resolve features as small as one micron. However, this value was degraded in practice due to vibrations or subtle shifting of the systems used to direct the X-ray beam, though future refinements should alleviate any stability issues.

XELM has some advantages over other techniques in that it is especially useful at low temperatures and can image in the presence of electric and magnetic fields. The results were accepted for publication in the American Institute of Physics' journal Review of Scientific Instruments.

Original publication:

R.A. Rosenberg et al.; Elemental and magnetic sensitive imaging using x-ray excited luminescence microscopy; Review of Scientific Instruments

American Institute of Physics (AIP)

Recommend news PDF version / Print

Share on

Facts, background information, dossiers
More about American Institute of Physics
  • News

    Silver nanoparticles take spectroscopy to new dimension

    As medicine and pharmacology investigate nanoscale processes, it has become increasingly important to identify and characterize different molecules. Raman spectroscopy, a technique that leverages the scattering of laser light to identify molecules, has a limited capacity to detect molecules ... more

    Protein-folding simulations sped up

    Proteins, the ubiquitous workhorses of biochemistry, are huge molecules whose function depends on how they fold into intricate structures. To understand how these molecules work, researchers use computer modeling to calculate how proteins fold. Now, a new algorithm can accelerate those vita ... more

    Probing exotic ices

    Water is everywhere. But it's not the same everywhere. When frozen under extreme pressures and temperatures, ice takes on a range of complex crystalline structures. Many of the properties and behaviors of these exotic ices remain mysterious, but a team of researchers recently provided new u ... more

More about Argonne National Laboratory
Your browser is not current. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support some functions on Chemie.DE