American Laboratory 33 (2001) 30-36

Chemical mapping with soft X-ray spectromicroscopy

A.P. Hitchcock

Chemistry & BIMR, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada L8S 4M1

(Received 1 Mar 2001; accepted 10 Apr 2001)


Spectromicroscopy is a combination of spectroscopy - the way different wavelengths (colours) of light are absorbed by matter - and microscopy - imaging on a scale finer than the human eye can resolve. While using many of the same concepts, spectromicroscopy is distinct from 'wavelength selective imaging' or 'microprobe analysis' (small spot spectroscopy) because it uses to the fullest possible extent both the spatial and spectral domains. There are many variants of spectromicroscopy, including a number which use synchrotron light. This article describes several recently developed techniques in which tuneable soft X-rays are used to provide chemical mapping via X-ray absorption spectroscopy at a spatial resolution of better than 100 nm. Polymer and biomaterial applications are used to illustrate some of the ways soft X-ray spectromicroscopy is being used. However these techniques have very general applicability. They are being applied to virtually all disciplines where spatially resolved chemical analysis is required - materials science, biology, medicine, environmental science, magnetic devices, electronic devices, and emerging areas of nanotechnology.

@ 2001American Laboratory