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Monte Carlo Modeling for Electron Microscopy and Microanalysis Oxford Series in Optical and Imaging Sciences

Monte Carlo Modeling for Electron Microscopy and Microanalysis Oxford Series in Optical and Imaging Sciences

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11/24/2014

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In the previous chapter, the generation of fast secondary electrons (FSE) was incor-
porated into a Monte Carlo program. It was noted that these FSE, which have
energies up to half that of the incident beam, tended to travel almost normal to the
original direction of the incident beam. Clearly, if these FSE can generate x-rays,
this could adversely affect the spatial resolution of microanalysis. Equation (9.3)
shows that the yield of x-rays by an electron of energy E is proportional to l/U,
where U is the overvoltage E/Ek. Consider then the case of oxygen x-rays (Ek = 530
eV) being fluoresced by incident 100-keV electrons, and by, say, 2-keV fast second-
ary electrons. The efficiency of oxygen x-ray ionization by the FSE is 50 times
higher than the efficiency for the primary electron, so even if only one primary

182

MONTE CARLO MODELING

electron in a hundred generated an FSE, 50% of the measured x-ray yield could be
coming from secondaries rather than the incident beam. Since, as we saw, the spatial
distribution of the FSE is also quite different from that of the incident beam, it is
clear that the effect of including fast secondary production could be significant.
To examine this effect, the Monte Carlo model must be modified to include
x-ray generation using Eq. (9.3) for some arbitrary x-ray energy. The code for this is
straightforward:

Procedure generate_x-rays (energy:real;stepsize:real);

{computes the x-ray yield using Eq. (9.3) given the electron

energy and the critical excitation energy of the x-ray. Fixed

constants can be inserted later if required}

var

x_ray_yield:real;
at_z, at_r:integer;

begin

x_ray_yield: =ln(energy/E_crit)/(energy*E_crit) ;
x_ray—yield: =x_ray_yieId*stepsize;

{assign X-ray production to a box at given radius and depth}

at_z:=round( (z + zn) / (2*step) ) ; {depth}
at_r: =round(sqrt ( (x+xn) * (x+xn) - (y+yn) * (y+yn) ) / (2*step) ) ; {radius}

if at_z< = 0 then at_z: = 0; {to protect array}
if ( (at_z< =50) and (at_r< = 50) ) then {within bounds so put into

array}

x_ray_gen[at_z,at_r] : =x_ray_gen [at—z , at_r] +x_ray—yield;

end;

In this example, the computed x-ray yield is deemed to have occurred at a point
defined by the midpoints of the trajectory step
(x + xri)/2,(y + yri)/2, and at a depth
(z 4-
zn)/2. The data are stored in an array x_ray_gen [0 . .50,0 . .50]
formed of annuli whose width and depth are defined by the quantity step. The
box size can be chosen to be any value, but a convenient choice is often to make
step equal to one-fiftieth of the estimated electron range. The variable stepsize
passed to the procedure is the length of the trajectory step. If, on this step, the
electron is either transmitted through or backscattered from the specimen, the step-
size must be modified accordingly. This can be done exactly—e.g., the actual
distance 11 traveled within the specimen for an electron that is backscattered out of
the specimen from some point z beneath the surface of the specimen is 11 =
z/cc,
where cc is the usual direction cosine. Otherwise the stepsize can be approximated
putting the stepsize equal to stepsize*RND.
The insertion of the procedure into the FSE_MC code is obvious and needs no
detailed comment. In either the primary loop, or in the FSE loop, the x-ray genera-

X-RAY PRODUCTION AND MICROANALYSIS

183

Table 9.1 Effect of FSE on X-ray resolution

Line Used

Mode

Resolution

X-ray Yield

IronKa N

o FSE 6

0 A —

With FSE 6

4 A +

1%

Silicon Ka N

o FSE 6

0 A —

With FSE 6

5 A +3.1

%

Oxygen Ka N

o FSE 6

0 A —

With FSE 7

5 A +6.0

%

Carbon Ka N

o FSE 6

0 A —

With FSE 8

5 A +11.2

%

tion can be computed as soon as the new coordinates xn,yn,zn have been calculated
and the subsequent behavior of the electron has been determined (i.e., does the
electron remain in the sample or is it transmitted or backscattered?). Thus

zn:=z+ step*cc;

{get x-ray production now for electron remaining in sample}
if E>E_crit then {ionization can occur so}

generate_x-rays(E,step);

The effect of including FSE production is often quite significant. Table 9.1 shows
data computed for the effective resolution and total x-ray yield for several different
elements in a 500-A thick sample of iron examined with a 100-keV beam.
It can be seen that in the simple approximation where secondary effects are
neglected, the spatial resolution is independent of the energy of the x-ray line that is
being examined, because only the volume occupied by the trajectories of the inci-
dent electrons are considered. But when FSE are included, the resolution gets worse
because of the lateral motion of the secondaries. The lower the energy of the x-ray,
the further a given secondary can travel before it no longer has sufficient energy to
excite the chosen line, so as the ionization threshold is lowered, the computed
resolution becomes worse. For iron Ka where £crit is around 7 keV, the change in
resolution is negligible because relatively few FSE have high enough energies; but
for carbon Ka (£crit = 0.28 keV), the relution is degraded by some 40%. Sim-
ilarly, including FSE production also changes the predicted yield of x-rays from an
element. The extent to which this occurs depends on the nature of the matrix in
which the element to be observed is sitting. If the matrix is of low density and low
atomic number, then the number of FSE produced, and the consequent change in
x-ray yield, will be small; but for a dense, high-atomic-number matrix, the number
of FSE produced is high and consequently extra fluorescence of the element occurs.
This indicates that care must be used in performing quantitative microanalysis under

184

MONTE CARLO MODELING

conditions where FSE production is significant. For example, at high beam energies
and thus generally high overvoltage-ratios, the majority of x-ray production may be
coming via the FSE rather than from the incident electron. In this case the spatial
resolution will be significantly worse than predicted by the simple theory—and, in
fact, will get worse rather than better as the beam energy is increased, but it will be
more or less independent of the foil thickness—and the intensity ratios of various
elements will vary in a complex way with composition because changes in chemis-
try will cause changes in the number of FSE and hence in the amount of excitation.
Microanalysis at beam energies of 200 keV or above is likely to demonstrate these
problems.

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