University Of Cape Town Geology – Electron Microprobe

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University Of Cape Town Geology – Electron Microprobe

University Of Cape Town Geology – Electron Microprobe

The Electron Microprobe facility allows the quantitative and/or qualitative analysis of a wide range of elements (from Boron through Uranium, if present in sufficient concentration) of solid materials at the micron scale.
Procedures for the quantitative analysis of major and minor elements in olivine, garnet, clinopyroxene, orthopyroxene, oxides (ilmenite and spinel-group minerals), feldspar, amphibole, and micas are routinely available.
A variety of client-defined analytical procedures can be developed on request. A range of well-characterized natural and synthetic silicate and oxide mineral, metal, and alloy standards, including platinum group elements, are available to allow quantitative analysis of a wide range of materials.
For qualitative analysis the following are possible: backscattered electron imaging, secondary electron imaging, x-ray mapping, and cathodoluminescence. Secondary electron and backscattered electron images at magnifications of forty times to several thousand times may be acquired and printed, as can cathodoluminescence images, on a color laser printer. X-ray mapping and qualitative line scans can be readily undertaken, and the software is available to facilitate phase identification and particle size analysis.
The facility comprises a JEOL Superprobe JXA-8100 Electron Probe Microanalyzer, equipped with four wavelength dispersive spectrometers and a range of crystals (LDE1, LDE2, PETJ, PETH, TAP, LIF, LIFH) capable of measuring most elements of interest in the geological and material sciences, including light elements such as boron and carbon. The instrument is fitted with two gas-flow proportional (for light elements) and two sealed Xenon detectors (for heavy elements), together with backscattered electron, secondary electron, and cathodoluminescence detectors. A carbon coater is available for prior coating of non-conductive samples, which is necessary in most cases to prevent sample charging.
The sample holder can accommodate a considerable range of sample sizes and shapes, although standard 28mm wide and 48mm long polished thin sections or one-inch diameter epoxy discs are most easily accommodated.
The facility is operated by Senior Scientific Officer, Nicholas Laidler, and is supervised by Dr. Johann Diener.


Numerous internal labs and analytical facilities are maintained by the Department of Geological Sciences. Both internal and external (other tertiary institutions and businesses) users can use the facilities for a reasonable price. The following facilities/equipment are located inside the Department:


Multi-collector ICP-MS
Quadrupole ICP-MS
Electron Microprobe
X-ray Fluorescence (XRF)
X-ray Diffractometer (XRD)
Linkam Fluid Inclusion Laboratory
Stable isotope Laboratory
Geophysics Software Laboratory
Sedimentology Laboratory

Laboratories and equipment are supported by staffed, hygienic labs, and sample preparation facilities. The Department also has a room for rock crushing and a thin-section facility.

Additionally, a variety of vehicles owned by the Department of Geological Sciences are used to support fieldwork and research operations at the University. On a first-come, first-served basis, you can hire these. For additional information, get in touch with John Harrison at or 021-650-2909.

For more information regarding the Microprobe facility, please contact:
Mr. Nicholas Laidler
Rm 1.05, Geological Science
(021) 650 3667

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