Analysis of lateral element distributions using the nuclear microprobe


A high energetic ion beam focused to few micrometers is scanned over a sample and initiates different processes of interaction with the atoms of the target material. So the following analysing techniques can be used: 
  •  Proton Induced X-ray Emission (PIXE); 
  •  Rutherford Back Scattering (RBS);
  •  Elastic Recoil Detection Analysis (ERDA);
  •  Nuclaer Reaction Analysis (NRA).

Parameters of the Rossendorf  Nuclear Microprobe installed at the 3 MV-Tandetron:

  • Lens system:
electromagnetic quadrupole triplet
  • Refractive power:
M x E / q²=45 MeV amu
  • Incidence particles:
Protonen, nahezu alle Ionen mit Z > 2
  • Beam current:
> 100 pA 
  • Beam spot:
» 2 µm 
  • Scanning area:
bis zu 2 x 2 mm²


mikro PIXE mittelalterlicher Oberschenkelknochen

Example of application 1:

Trace element distributions on a cross section of a medieval human femur were investigated by means of micro-PIXE. 
Bone structures, represented in the form of so-called lines of arrested growth, were observed. An increased concentration of the trace elements Mn, Fe, Zn, Pb and Sr and a decreased one  of Ca were measured on the bone lines. The alteration of the concentration is connected with different conditions during the growth and could not be interpreted by contamination of material from the surrounding burial matrix, as suggested by other anthropologists.

Konzentrationsverteilung von Fe und PIXE-Spektren

Distribution of Fe and PIXE Spectra measured on and beside a bone line. 

Ref.: D. Grambole, F. Herrmann, B. Herrmann, Nucl. Instr. and Meth. B 109/110 (1996) 667 

Mikrosonde2Example of application 2:

Hydrogen and deuterium depth profiles of a wall sample (0.5 mm tungsten on carbon) from a fusion reactor were investigated by micro-ERDA. The depth distributions were measured by line scanning  the beam over a slope of the sample (wedge structure) prepared before. 

Meßgeometrie und die Tiefenprofile

Experimental set-up and depth profiles 

Before cutting the sample a 70 nm thick gold layer was evaporated onto the surface to identify the slope. The gold was measured simultaneously by PIXE. 

Ref.: D. Grambole, F. Herrmann, R. Behrisch, W. Hauffe
Proceedings of the 6th Intern. Conf. on Nuclear Microprobe Technology and Applications, Cape Town, South Africa (1998), 
to be published in Nucl. Instr. and Meth. B.