The primary use of the electron probe micro-analyzer (microprobe) is the rapid chemical analysis of solid materials at a very small spatial scale (1-3 microns). The instrument uses a focused electron beam to excite X-rays in the solid sample; all elements of atomic number 4 (Beryllium) and higher can be quantitatively measured with this instrument, and the detection limit for many elements is less than 100 parts per million (ppm). The instrument is commonly used to help address a wide variety of scientific and engineering problems. These include problems ranging from the fields of geology, metallurgy, solid-state physics, mechanical and chemical engineering, electronics, biology, and physical chemistry. Sample types come from natural environments, experiments and from manufacturing processes.
The Oregon State University (OSU) Electron Microprobe Laboratory was established jointly by College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences (COAS) and by the Department of Geosciences in 1988. The laboratory is operated as an open analytical facility, with a mandate of providing services on request to any researcher or student. Since its inception, the laboratory has formed an important component of the OSU research infrastructure and underpins the research activities of a diverse user base, including Geoscientists, Engineers, Biologists, Material Scientists and Environmental Scientists. As such, the laboratory provides indispensable services to the entire OSU community, to other academic institutions, state and federal agencies, and to a large number of industry collaborators and partners; collectively serving over 200 investigator groups over the last 20+ years. This OSU Microprobe Laboratory facility has also provided high-level technical support to help collaborating faculty to develop analytical procedures, find standard materials and train graduate students. The laboratory has worked with hundreds of graduate students from 5 OSU colleges as well as researchers from over a dozen state and federal agencies and over 100 industry collaborators and partners.