Cathodoluminescence (CL) is the process by which a material emits characteristic photons of visible light when struck by electrons (such as those produced by the source in an electron microscope). Researchers in geology, optoelectronics, failure analysis, ceramics, glass and many other fields use CL detection as a unique way to highlight sample properties that are not visible with conventional electron or X-ray imaging techniques. By correlating CL data to topography, crystallography and elemental information, a better understanding of photonic properties, composition, material quality or sample history can be obtained.
A range of third-party CL accessories exists for the Thermo Scientific SEM and DualBeam product lines. These are usually specialized in spectral CL detection, i.e. the collection of a full spectrum for each pixel of the image (also called hyperspectral imaging). While this provides a great deal of information, most CL solutions suffer from alignment and ease-of-use issues, limitations in working distance and field of view, and/or cannot perform simultaneous detection of X-ray/backscattered electron signal.
The Thermo Scientific RGB Cathodoluminescence Detector offers real-color CL imaging, without any of the beforementioned limitations, integrated into the instrument user interface. It features a flat design that slides between the sample and the final lens, much like a retractable backscatter detector. Unlike conventional mirror-based solutions, the large detector area eliminates the need for any optical alignment and does not limit the field of view. Additionally, simultaneous detection of secondary electrons (SE), backscatter electrons (BSE) or X-rays is possible, enabling correlation of CL data with SE, BSE and energy-dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDS) in only a single scan of the electron beam.
Integrated into the user interface of the microscope, the RGB Cathodoluminescence Detector makes color images available as soon as the beam is scanning. This makes the detector a unique asset to multi-user labs requiring CL data and correlation with worry-free operation.
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Novel materials are investigated at increasingly smaller scales for maximum control of their physical and chemical properties. Electron microscopy provides researchers with key insight into a wide variety of material characteristics at the micro- to nano-scale.
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