X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XANES and EXAFS) applied with x-ray microprobe instrumentation (figures 1) can be used for studying the electronic structure of specific elements in complex materials in a spatially-resolved manner (figure 2). Such techniques are valuable in a wide range of studies including hydrothermal fluid processes, migration and encapsulation of toxic and radioactive wastes, and redox evolution of solar system bodies.
One of the major technical challenges in this work is the production of high flux microbeams from high power, hard x-ray synchrotron sources. Some of the microbeam technologies under development include tapered glass capillaries, zone plates, and elliptical mirrors. Each approach has advantages and disadvantages and the optimum microfocusing device depends on the particular experiment.
One of the most versatile of these devices is the dynamically bent, elliptical mirror, especially when a pair of mirrors are arranged in a Kirkpatrick-Baez (KB) geometry to provide two-dimensional focusing. This versatility derives mainly from four attributes.