Posted in | Materials Analysis

Oxford Instruments Enables Real-time Chemical Imaging

AZtecLive’s unique approach to EDS analysis is based around the principal that the user is presented with all the data they need to investigate their sample without having to acquire it manually. Everything is ‘Live’ and continually refreshed. This begins with the electron image, which is streamed live into the AZtecLive interface. Now there is no need to go back and forth between the microscope and EDS software, all you have to do is choose between SE or BSE image.

Oxford Instruments, a global leader in microanalysis systems, has introduced a real-time navigation and imaging system for the SEM that helps users interactively explore their sample based on video-rate X-ray maps coloured by element rather than just the black and white electron image alone.

Unlike traditional static approaches to elemental analysis that need the user to define a zone of interest upfront and then start the analysis, the new system allows the user to move the sample in any direction and see a which elements are present as live coloured X-ray maps. This unique capability is enabled by the combination of two new products, a new fast silicon drift detector, Ultim® Max – and the real-time EDS analysis software, AZtecLive.

Just when you thought that the field of EDS had nothing new to offer, the introduction of AZtecLive enables real-time sample navigation using EDS. Imagine moving around the sample trying to find a feature of interest using the microscope stage and the electron image in fast scan mode. Now imagine viewing X-ray maps updating just as fast. With accurate AutoID telling you what elements are under the beam, a new level of certainty is added to sample investigation compared to using secondary and backscatter imaging alone.

When a user identifies a feature of interest and stops moving for a closer look, AZtecLive automatically switches to integrated mapping mode to collect an even more detailed picture of what is under the electron beam. To complete the sample investigation, AZtecLive records the elements found at every part of a sample visited, users can tell easily where they’ve been, and what they found, and easily return to any location for more detailed analysis.

The technology that makes live Navigation by ChemistryTM a reality is the new Ultim Max, a leap in large area SDD performance that delivers twice the sensitivity and up to four times the speed of the best current generation of SDD detectors. Active areas up to a massive 170mm2 mean X-ray maps can be collected in fractions of a second using normal beam currents.

AZtecLive uniquely provides the tools to accurately turn data collected at many hundreds of thousands of counts per second into useful information. Unique pile-up correction ensures accurate data  even at high count rates.

According to X-ray Business Manager, Dr. Simon Burgess, the jump in speed, sensitivity and accuracy not only powers AZtecLive, but offers new capability and productivity for micro- and nano-analyses.

From mapping a complete sample in minutes through to collecting unrivalled information about nano-structures, low concentrations and light elements, or analysing samples where charging or beam sensitivity were a barrier to using EDS, AZtecLive and Ultim Max change the art of the possible.

For more details, application notes and videos please visit


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