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J Microsc. 1984 Mar;133(Pt 3):239-53.

Mass thickness determination by electron energy loss for quantitative X-ray microanalysis in biology.

Abstract

As is well known, electron energy loss spectroscopy can be used to determine the relative sample thickness in the electron microscope. This paper considers how such measurements can be applied to biological samples in order to obtain the mass thickness for quantitative X-ray microanalysis. The important quantity in estimating the mass thickness from an unknown samples is the total inelastic cross section per unit mass. Models for the cross section suggest that this quantity is constant to within +/- 20% for most biological compounds. This is comparable with the approximation made in the continuum method for measuring mass thickness. The linearity of the energy loss technique is established by some measurements on evaporated films and quantitation is demonstrated by measurements on thin calcium standards. A significant advantage of the method is that the energy loss spectrum can be recorded at very low dose, so that mass thickness determination can be made before even the most sensitive samples suffer damage resulting in mass loss. The energy loss measurements avoid the necessity to correct the continuum measurement for stray radiation produced in the vicinity of the sample holder. Unlike the continuum method the energy loss technique requires uniform mass thickness across the probe area, but this is not usually a problem when small probes (less than or approximately 100 nm diameter) are used.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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