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Electron probe microanalysis (EPMA) is a fairly mature analytical technique which has been widely used in the fields of geochemistry and materials science since the early 1960s. The past decade or so has seen dramatic improvements, both theoretical and experimental, in the accuracy with which the concentrations of light elements such as oxygen can be measured by EPMA. This has coincided with a resurgence of interest in mixed-valence oxides which was stimulated by the discovery of high temperature superconductivity, and EPMA is now a vital tool for condensed matter physicists working in this field. Stoichiometric characterization is particularly important in the area of thin films, and a great deal of recent work has been devoted to modifying existing EPMA correction procedures in order to perform analyses of thin film or layered specimens. This article reviews the progress that has been made from a physicist's perspective, paying attention to the levels of accuracy and precision which are now attainable, and to the advantages and disadvantages Of EPMA in relation to other analytical techniques.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557-604
Number of pages48
JournalReports on Progress in Physics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1993


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