electron microscopy



Generation of X-rays

1. Ionization: A hole in an inner shell (here: K shell) is generated by an incident high-energy electron that loses the corresponding energy E transferred to the ejected electron.*
X-ray emission: The hole in the K shell is filled by an electron from an outer shell (here: L3). The superfluous energy is emitted as a characteristic X-ray quantum.

In a typical X-ray spectrum, there are many peaks caused by such a process. The X-ray energy corresponds to a certain difference in inner-shell energies. Thus, the detection of characteristic X-ray is specific for a element in the sample, and X-ray spectroscopy can be employed for qualitative analysis.

Another inelastic interaction of the incident electron with matter represents its deceleration by the Coulomb field of the nucleus. This process creates X-ray with any energy smaller than the beam energy. These X-rays are called "bremsstrahlung" and form the uncharacteristic spectrum background.



* Energy losses of the incident electrons are measured by EELS.

An introduction into X-ray generation and analysis is given on the microanalytik site.

Electron-matter interactions
ETH Zürich | ETH chemistry department | ETH inorganic chemistry

modified: 6 February, 2015 by F. Krumeich | © ETH Zürich and the authors