The Proton Microprobe: A Powerful Tool for Nondestructive Trace Element Analysis

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Science  17 Feb 1978:
Vol. 199, Issue 4330, pp. 765-768
DOI: 10.1126/science.199.4330.765


A proton microprobe capable of focusing proton beams with energies up to 6 million electron volts to a spot size of 2 x 2 square micrometers has been used for chemical analysis of small grains of minerals in lunar samples by proton-induced x-ray emission. The proton microprobe is preferable to the electron microprobe for analyzing trace elements whose concentrations are below the detection limit of the latter and for analyzing objects with numerous major and trace elements with a wide range of atomic numbers. Application of the proton microprobe to biological samples is feasible.