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Electron probe microanalysis (EPMA) is based on physical relations between measured X-ray intensities of characteristic lines and their X-ray production efficiency, which depends on the specimen composition. The quality of the analysis results relies on how realistically the physical relations describe the generation and emission of X-rays. Special experiments are necessary to measure X-ray production efficiencies. A challenge in these experiments is the determination of the detection efficiency of the spectrometer as a function of the photon energy. An energy-dispersive spectrometer was used in this work, for which the efficiency was determined at metrological synchrotron beamlines with an accuracy of ±2%. X-ray production efficiencies for the L series and the Kα series of copper and zirconium and for the M and L series of tungsten were determined at energies up to 30 keV in a scanning electron microscope. These experimental values were compared with calculated X-ray production efficiencies using physical relations and material constants applied in EPMA. The objective of the comparison is the further improvement of EPMA algorithms as well as extending the available database for X-ray production efficiencies. Experimental data for the X-ray production efficiency are also useful for the assessment of spectrum simulation software.
A method is proposed to determine the effective detector area for energy-dispersive X-ray spectrometers (EDS). Nowadays, detectors are available for a wide range of nominal areas ranging from 10 up to 150 mm2. However, it remains in most cases unknown whether this nominal area coincides with the “net active sensor area” that should be given according to the related standard ISO 15632, or with any other area of the detector device. Moreover, the specific geometry of EDS installation may further reduce a given detector area. The proposed method can be applied to most scanning electron microscope/EDS configurations. The basic idea consists in a comparison of the measured count rate with the count rate resulting from known X-ray yields of copper, titanium, or silicon. The method was successfully tested on three detectors with known effective area and applied further to seven spectrometers from different manufacturers. In most cases the method gave an effective area smaller than the area given in the detector description.