Author Topic: Cameca unshielded EPMA production cessation  (Read 978 times)

wrigke

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Cameca unshielded EPMA production cessation
« on: April 27, 2022, 10:19:18 AM »
Hi Folks,

I was recently informed by Cameca that they will cease production of unshielded probes within the month.  Is anyone surprised by this? 

From where I sit I see many people enamored of the speed of SEM-EDS.  These folks seem quite satisfied with instant EDS analysis (not using calibration standards) and are more interested in final cost than final quality.  Dale Newbury has predicted the demise of WDS for many years.  Are we finally seeing the beginning of the end for WDS?

Probeman

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Re: Cameca unshielded EPMA production cessation
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2022, 10:41:59 AM »
From where I sit I see many people enamored of the speed of SEM-EDS.  These folks seem quite satisfied with instant EDS analysis (not using calibration standards) and are more interested in final cost than final quality.  Dale Newbury has predicted the demise of WDS for many years.  Are we finally seeing the beginning of the end for WDS?

EDS will always have one disadvantage compared to WDS: EDS does not require the use of actual standards!    :P

That said, too many of these standards utilized in EPMA microananalysis are poorly characterized, inhomogeneous, full of inclusions, geographically constrained and available only in limited quantities:

https://probesoftware.com/smf/index.php?topic=1415.0

Even EDS would benefit if we had globally available, high purity synthetic mineral and oxide standards.

That said, losing the Cameca SXFive instrument is a blow. But it will help JEOL now there there is even less EPMA competition. There's a discussion here as well:

https://probesoftware.com/smf/index.php?topic=1453.0
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Mike Jercinovic

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Re: Cameca unshielded EPMA production cessation
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2022, 12:20:08 PM »
For those of us who work in minor/trace element analysis every day, EDS is simply not workable in this realm at all.  Furthermore, despite the great pulse processing capability of SDDs, they are still nowhere near as sensitive as WDS. We have tried to use EDS in particle searches, but it's been totally inadequate.

Probeman

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Re: Cameca unshielded EPMA production cessation
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2022, 01:58:16 PM »
My impression is that EDS is less useful on a shielded microprobe. If that is really the case, perhaps we might speculate about the future of the long term Cameca-Bruker partnership?

Interestingly, just today, Bruker announced a webinar for using WDS on SEMs for light element analysis. I'm guessing they knew about Cameca leaving the unshielded EPMA market before most of us...
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sem-geologist

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Re: Cameca unshielded EPMA production cessation
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2022, 05:50:46 PM »
Is anyone surprised by this? 
To be honest, hearing different kind of unfortunate rumors and dissatisfaction with SXFiveFE, and hearing all kind of stupid public order stories from my own country (but I guess whole bureaucratic monstrosity called as EU has similar idiotic laws and such cases was wide common) I was fearing this would happen even much sooner. I know at least few cases in last few years where some folks from public institutions wanted to buy Cameca SXFive, but final winner of public order was JEOL probe because of the price (Imagine You would want to buy a heavy-load truck, but following the procedure of law would force you to buy a minivan instead...). SXFiveFE is also known with misfortune startup, we had some bumps with our SXFiveFE (I know also some users which were completely happy from day-1), but I also hear few cases of unpleasant threats and even a case of instrument return. Marketing of Field Emission was also on completely inadequate point (mainly advertised very low voltage and reduced beam size - my chief still tends to bother me with that nonsense as that was main point for buying FEG instrument). The beam stability and preserved beam size at very high (extreme) currents is actually the real main advantage important to EPMA; I see Shimadzu Grand EPMA gets right point on FEG in its marketing, and It was not made as primary point by Cameca. They better should had not advertised some hardly useful feature (small size) - that latter bitten back as some users (especially those not very bright ones) felt their expectations was not met.

SXFiveFE is an excellent instrument (at this point lots of hardware and software/firmware bugs were addressed and fixed), If I would have a chose to change it into simple SXFive (not FEG) I would stay with FE version. SXFiveFE also is quite unique Schottky's emitter equipped instrument as it has only simple password protected FEG (locked for the beginners, but accessible for the experts), that means That it is possible to run and abuse and perfectly maintain the FEG tip without any stupid obstacles and "only-for-service" locks (looking to You JEOL and other SEM vendors). In example it is possible to turn up brightness temporary, and/or prolong lifetime (i.e. with clever monitoring and well-informed parameter adjustment I had achieved the tip running for 3+ year within stability specification; Yeah I hear that JEOL do that without user interaction, but I am talking about classical FEG tip (available from few vendors), not some modified patented JEOL version).

For those of us who work in minor/trace element analysis every day, EDS is simply not workable in this realm at all.  Furthermore, despite the great pulse processing capability of SDDs, they are still nowhere near as sensitive as WDS. We have tried to use EDS in particle searches, but it's been totally inadequate.
It is not SDD, it is just "great pulse processing" just-that. The improve in counting electronics just happened simultaneously to SDD technology, but that significant improvement in electronics is often mingled and burred behind advertisement of "SDD". What SDD brings is the good resolution, but that huge throughput would be impossible without new design of shaping and counting electronics. See in example Amptek's EDS assortment of detector components, and with short shaping times Si-PIN or CdTe solid state detectors can have near or surpassing 1Mcps (however at worse resolution than SDD's), which still is far better than what old SiLi detectors (and its counting electronics) offered.

As for particle search I am quite happy with SEM-EDS performance (two Bruker XFlash 6|10 on ZEISS SEM-FE). It allows to cover fully 2 thin sections during night with 1um resolution with hyperspectral maps which then can be used to mark expected - and also not expected accessory minerals. No problems to get monazites, zircons, rutiles, apatites... + 16bit BSE and find some interesting unexpected accessories. I am sure that SX would need to work much harder to achieve something like that with such resolution.

My impression is that EDS is less useful on a shielded microprobe. If that is really the case, perhaps we might speculate about the future of the long term Cameca-Bruker partnership?

Interestingly, just today, Bruker announced a webinar for using WDS on SEMs for light element analysis. I'm guessing they knew about Cameca leaving the unshielded EPMA market before most of us...

SDD probably is not good for radioactive materials... however some EDS'es (in example those from AMPTEK, CdTe and Si-PIN) are even advertised for nuclear usage. Maybe Bruker is not making radiation-resilient detectors - but that does not mean that all EDS are like that. I expect that Cameca would try adding AMPTEK's detectors for EDS to shielded probes, especially that AMPTEK is also a part of AMETEK inc.

Brukers XFlash Nano for SX100 (and SXFive) is really nice piece of Hardware, it is generation older than what is sold for full sized SEM (also Pulse Processing Unit is version 3, where commonly currently SEM are with version 6), but actually I like it more as it has some really nice genius engineering details and more linear behavior than newer and bigger versions. Its small size can mislead, and it misled myself thinking that it is some downsized (crippled) and limited EDS compared to those which are on our SEM (XFlash 6|10 and XFlash 6|30), but actually I found out recently that little EDS is best for quantitative work from all Bruker EDS detectors we have on SEM's.

I know that Bruker is producing WDS detectors for SEM (alongside EDS, EBSD, CL and µXRF) for long time already, I would not speculate that Cameca leaving the unshielded EPMA market have something to do with that webinar. It is rather a coincidence (albeit I am going to attend that as I am very curious what is the performance of these WDS, and sometimes I like asking troublesome questions...).
 
Yeah, I guess that makes life easier for JEOL, however for our community it is a huge blow - monopolies tends to slow down the development and progress and increase the costs. No more Cameca SX means that JEOL will now can raise the price of sold probes without linear encoders and sell at same price as technologically more advanced Cameca SX as it won't need to compete on the price anymore.

But are we all going to buy the new probe just because the Cameca would drop support in 8/10 years? I am not so pessimistic, and I think with proper planning and stockpiling the right parts and some know-how, the usability of those machines can easily be lengthened to more than 8/10 years. Alternatively, there is also some room for "Frankenstain"-ization of these instruments...

From where I sit I see many people enamored of the speed of SEM-EDS.  These folks seem quite satisfied with instant EDS analysis (not using calibration standards) and are more interested in final cost than final quality.  Dale Newbury has predicted the demise of WDS for many years.  Are we finally seeing the beginning of the end for WDS?

Now probably I will trigger many one here and I could look like tin-foil guy here or worse... If You don't want to get depression just stop reading right there! OK, I am spilling it: I would say we generally see the beginning of the of end of practicing scientific method and being that replaced with "science" as a religion with all its attributes. And massive move to EDS-standardless is just one of countless side-effects of loosened perception what is and is not science.

In "Publish-or-perish" mode for academics the standard-less EDS is like god-sent allowing to hastily move with production of another paper. There is more papers being produced in any given subject than anyone can read (by read I mean study it with full understanding).

For forensic... there is so many cases and crime only keeps increasing and this EDS-standardless increases throughput. uncertainties? what is that for?.

For industries... no, we are not looking how to make material non-destructible for next 50 years (2 years are more than enough), but looking for some forbidden elements to comply with just another countless law (need to confirm absence of this and that element which inclusion is crucial for high durability; sustaining development is not about stopping producing garbage - it is about sustaining production). EDS-standardless---perfecto!

The darkest darkness (this paragraph is severely depressive and pessimistic):
Geology education and  Geology science institutions are going down in western countries and/or being cannibalized by eco "sciences". The real story: to understand to what the degree and how much the primary/high schools brain-washes the young generation - some of young students in our University had protested learning where lies the deposits of natural oil and gas reserves in our country because oil is not "green". This trend is very clear and less and less students chose the subjects and specialization anyhow connected with natural mineral deposits.

It is very likely that many of institutions and labs currently possessing Cameca SX probes will cease to exist earlier than what Cameca declares to support (8-10 years). The bright side of that: there will be no dilemma if to buy a new JEOL or Shimadzu probe.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2022, 08:13:00 AM by John Donovan »

Mike Jercinovic

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Re: Cameca unshielded EPMA production cessation
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2022, 09:22:13 AM »
We run WDS full section maps in order to find all of the monazite and xenotime (sometimes zircon) in a thin section.  Two maps overnight.  300nA, 15kV, 35um beam, 20ms pixel count time.  Typically, we use Ce La as the monitor for monazite.  We will set up elements for base maps to evaluate texture and petrologic context for these accessory minerals, and that includes several major elements from EDS channels (the integrated Bruker XFlash 610H on that machine).  The latest set we received for someone they warned us that the thin sections were prepared with Ce-oxide as a polishing compound.  When we know this, we switch our monitor element for monazite to La La on WDS PET, which is a bit less abundant compared to Ce in most monazite, but works fine, no problem.  As an experiment, we thought we would also monitor Ce by EDS to see if the Ce-oxide actually showed up.  In all of these maps, we got the usual nice bright La spots in WDS maps, but the Ce EDS maps saw maybe 10% of those if I am generous.  Maybe we could do better if we open the aperture all the way, but this gets into a very high dead time area for majors. Anyway, for us, the signal to noise difference WDS to EDS is not even close.

As to the rest, in particular your last pessimistic editorial, is 100% right.  If you sat through the faculty meeting I did yesterday, you would be even more depressed.  Yes, all environment and climate but nobody wants to address the critical minerals side of the new green economy, or God forbid, just the spirit of curiosity-based science that brings the wonder of nature and physical science that so captivated many of us decades ago.  Geologic research on REEs, Co, Cu, etc.?  No way.  We don't even want geology in our department name anymore, let alone hire new faculty in these areas.  Climate and environment, that's what the kids really want.  Still, we soldier on to try to somehow get through to some that there are exciting things in the geosciences that help us understand the Earth and planets, and that you never know what practical things might come from just trying to figure out natural processes, and that scientific rigor is more important than ever.

Jacob

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Re: Cameca unshielded EPMA production cessation
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2022, 01:40:47 PM »
We were talking about this around the lab the other day when it was posted in the Cameca forum.

The interesting bit of news to me is that the SKaphia will remain in production.  Given that the Skaphia is an SXFive at it's heart, with some added stuff, that means that all the tooling and human talent to make SXFives will still exist in the company.

Something strange is going on here, unless I'm vastly underestimating the costs involved in keeping the production of the shielded systems going.  All the tooling and talent for making whole microprobes will need to be preserved internally in some way to support the shielded line, and we may yet see a reemergence of the unshielded systems in some form.

Either that or the price of the shielded systems is about to triple as the costs are concentrated on to the small number of purchasers of those systems.

neko

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Re: Cameca unshielded EPMA production cessation
« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2022, 08:44:01 AM »
I asked Cameca if they were planning on releasing their API to the community for us to continue development on the machine but they have no plans for it at this time.

I've resorted to using Python to shore up shortcomings I've found in PeakSight 6.5 and adapt some command-line modulated functionality into an ancillary GUI and facilitate repetitive/remote operations.

I have scripts to automate a lot of the startup procedure. If I could actually get data returned from the probe I could automate more of the process. I'm investigating how to use Python to dump data out of running Sx programs to this end.

Things like the setup files including parameters like heat and beam alignment but there's no way to tell whether or not they've been updated make tracking updates across multiple files with different parameters difficult and could be easily remediated.

I believe PfE includes (or used to include) an API. If we ever had that, I'd use the heck out of it. Alas, I myself am retiring from active probe duty and will only become a sort of emeriti resource for our new operator so that ship has likely sailed - playing computer doctor is an easier and more lucrative career path that I have chosen to re-enter after a decade helming a probe (just so happened to get my new job a month before Cameca announced their retirement from probes).

c'est la vie!

Probeman

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Re: Cameca unshielded EPMA production cessation
« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2022, 04:13:15 PM »
Geology education and  Geology science institutions are going down in western countries and/or being cannibalized by eco "sciences". The real story: to understand to what the degree and how much the primary/high schools brain-washes the young generation - some of young students in our University had protested learning where lies the deposits of natural oil and gas reserves in our country because oil is not "green". This trend is very clear and less and less students chose the subjects and specialization anyhow connected with natural mineral deposits.

As to the rest, in particular your last pessimistic editorial, is 100% right.  If you sat through the faculty meeting I did yesterday, you would be even more depressed.  Yes, all environment and climate but nobody wants to address the critical minerals side of the new green economy, or God forbid, just the spirit of curiosity-based science that brings the wonder of nature and physical science that so captivated many of us decades ago.  Geologic research on REEs, Co, Cu, etc.?  No way.  We don't even want geology in our department name anymore, let alone hire new faculty in these areas.  Climate and environment, that's what the kids really want.  Still, we soldier on to try to somehow get through to some that there are exciting things in the geosciences that help us understand the Earth and planets, and that you never know what practical things might come from just trying to figure out natural processes, and that scientific rigor is more important than ever.

Yeah, those darn kids... how dare they care about the future!   After all, what have future generations ever done for us?    :P

Seriously, I don't think we need to worry about hard rock geology too much. In order to transition to a more renewable energy economy (wind, solar, batteries, EVs, etc.), there is going to be an undeniable need for many minerals (nickel, copper, lithium, graphite, etc., etc.), and for many years, at least until we get enough material in circulation that it can be recycled efficiently.  And recycling stuff is certainly better than burning stuff!    :)

And anyway, eventually we'll be doing hard rock geology in the asteroid belt!  So I think economic geology is here to stay. 8)
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John Donovan

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Re: Cameca unshielded EPMA production cessation
« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2022, 04:19:18 PM »
I believe PfE includes (or used to include) an API. If we ever had that, I'd use the heck out of it. Alas, I myself am retiring from active probe duty and will only become a sort of emeriti resource for our new operator so that ship has likely sailed - playing computer doctor is an easier and more lucrative career path that I have chosen to re-enter after a decade helming a probe (just so happened to get my new job a month before Cameca announced their retirement from probes).

Hi Nick,
Wow, sorry to see you go!  Please do stay in touch.

Yes, Probe Software does provide access to the low level API for JEOL and Cameca instruments through our Remote Server interface.  A number of our customers have written many scripts for specialized applications using this interface which includes all the stage, column and WDS calls including analog signal imaging. This Remote Server object can be called from any OLE container such as Excel, Matlab, etc.

Here is the board for this interface:

https://probesoftware.com/smf/index.php?board=9.0
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NicholasRitchie

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Re: Cameca unshielded EPMA production cessation
« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2022, 11:05:54 PM »
There has been zero incentive for innovation in the electron probe market for decades now.  With Cameca gone, there is even less.   Yet, any one of us could come up with ten ways to improve the microprobe without even trying.
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Mike Jercinovic

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Re: Cameca unshielded EPMA production cessation
« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2022, 08:35:15 AM »
I have to push back on this at least a little.  The SX-Ultrachron project ultimately involved a lot of innovation.  On the hardware-firmware side alone: New LaB6-CeB6 cathode assembly, new electron gun design, off-axis ion pump, HV power supply, BSE dynamic range, BSE hardware shield, VLPET monochromators (around 5x the size of PET) and double-size detectors, column firmware for independent condenser operation to optimize beam quality over an extreme range of voltage and current, ultra-high current beam regulation. Almost all of this eventually became platform standard on the SX5 and SXfive-Tactis.  The achieved count rates at high spatial resolution at regulated very high current have been fantastic.  Schottky emitters have been tremendously advanced forward by both JEOL and Cameca over the last 15 years in particular, to become much more reliable emitters.  From this, we are seeing a lot of innovation now in both techniques and quantification in low voltage EPMA. 

The Tactis platform has integrated Bruker EDS to a truly full integration that get to the previously stated 'holy grail' of mapping: WDS with EDS hypermaps to be able to extract EDS elements in full mapping quant analysis, this is still being improved, touch screen operation if so desired (a huge advantage with remote operation), new HR BSE and full pneumatic vacuum valve operation, automated aperture control, modifications to count processing and other things.  I think both JEOL and Cameca have gone a long way to integrating CL better.  The shallowprobe project innovated ultralight element analysis at low voltage and very high current.

Of course, there have also been tremendous advances in software to allow many things we just could not do, or do very well previously: multipoint background acquisition, background sharing, MAN backgrounds, multi-spectrometer integration, and quant mapping are just a few examples that at least Probe Software and Cameca have worked on implementing (spectrometer integration and improving quant mapping were actually prioritized at the start of the SX-Ultrachron project).
« Last Edit: April 30, 2022, 06:19:38 PM by John Donovan »

Probeman

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Re: Cameca unshielded EPMA production cessation
« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2022, 09:20:16 AM »
I agree with Mike that Cameca has done a considerable amount of innovation (large area crystals also being an important one) over the last 10 to 15 years, but I think Nicholas' point is that with Cameca now (mostly) not selling microprobes, those innovations will essentially fall by the wayside.

Looking forward can we expect JEOL to start innovating more?  I don't know, but let's try and list a least 10 ways JEOL could improve their current microprobe. I'll start:

1. Implement solid state detectors for WDS spectrometers
2. ...
« Last Edit: April 30, 2022, 09:26:30 AM by Probeman »
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Mike Jercinovic

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Re: Cameca unshielded EPMA production cessation
« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2022, 10:56:31 AM »
Sorry, in my haste this morning, I left out a couple of things, so when Christine and I were out grocery shopping, it just kept bugging me that there is some perception that EPMA has not evolved.  What about the JEOL development of SXES?  Or the even more recent development by Cameca of the Lithium spectrometer?  These are fantastic innovations that allow some amazing research, not just elemental concentrations but into the structure of materials, bonding, etc.!  When I think about it compared to 15 or 20 years ago, we are now doing things much better, and even things we never thought possible really. 
Some of these things have been dramatically moved forward:
Trace element microanalysis, particularly at high spatial resolution
Soft X-ray microanalysis
High spatial resolution microanalysis at low kV
Oxidation state microanalysis
Microanalysis in the context of EBSD
Cathodoluminescense as a quantitative tool
Thin film and surface microanalysis
I am sure there are plenty more...

I am not sure why JEOL would feel compelled to innovate and sink money ito R&D without any meaningful competition except for the continual erosion of WDS in favor of the black box SEM-EDS that those vendors continue to push.  I'm afraid few SEM-EDS users will go anywhere near the rigor that Nicholas has worked so hard to develop and demonstrate.  For minor and trace element analysis, and ultra-light element analysis, I am really concerned about the future.

Mike Jercinovic

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Re: Cameca unshielded EPMA production cessation
« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2022, 11:11:16 AM »
So I guess I am not sure why these things have happened if there has been "zero incentive for innovation in the electron probe market for decades now".  Cameca, from Claude Conty on down, were very excited to try to do something really new and innovative in WDS when they committed to the SX-Ultrachron project.  I agree there is plenty more to do going forward, at least from our point of view, but how to make these happen is the question.