MSE 583 Energy Dispersive X-Ray Microanalysis

Sem. Fall, cr 1 (may be repeated for credit).

Practical introduction to the operation of energy-dispersive x-ray spectrometers, in association with electron microscopes. Required of all students who use the EDS in their research. Prerequisite: MSE 581.


The course goal is for the students to become competent, research-level energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopists. They will understand the functions of the EDS system and how it works. They will be competent in basic operating techniques, and ready to learn more advanced ones as needed.

Relation to Program Objectives and Outcomes:

A5, A7, B1, B5. For clarification go to Program Goals for Materials Engineering.


1. Provide an understanding of theory and fundamentals of energy dispersive x-ray microanalysis. This includes:

  • Theory of x-ray generation
  • Detection of x-rays
  • Qualitative x-ray analysis and strategies
  • Matrix correction and qualitative analysis

2. Provide "hands-on" training on operation of an x-ray microanalyser. This includes:

  • Acquisition of x-ray spectra
  • Detector energy, resolution, and efficiency calibration
  • Qualitative analysis of x-ray spectra
  • Semi-quantitative and quantitative analysis
  • Elemental line profiling and x-ray dot mapping.


This course is taught based on having two lectures per week and a weekly three hour lab for four weeks.


Student progress is assessed by their ability to operate the microanalysis system with increasing independence and decreasing instructor intervention, as the labs progress. Students add to their own "user manual" throughout the course.


Student evaluation will be based on homework exercises, writing four lab reports, and the ability of students to operate the x-ray microanalyser for qualitative and quantitative elemental microanalysis, line profiling, and elemental mapping.


Feedback is provided by anonymous written evaluation by students at the conclusion of the course.