Analytical techniques with high sensitivity and high spatial resolution are crucial for understanding the chemical properties of complex earth materials and environmental samples, and these so-called “microprobes” have become workhorses of the geochemical community as well as important tools for environmental scientists. These microanalytical instruments are based on various forms of sample excitation and detection. They are complementary in terms of spatial resolution, element sensitivity, energy deposition and non-destructiveness.

Several techniques fall in the class of methods employing charged particle excitation of X-ray fluorescence, including electron microprobe analysis (EMPA) and particle-induced X-ray emission (PIXE). EMPA is capable of μm-sized spots...

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