Design Your Own Standard from the library of the C. M. Taylor Company and Structure Probe Inc.
Instructions regarding polished metal and mineral standards
Congratulations on acquiring an SPI microanalysis standard! This mount has been carefully prepared from the finest materials and, if you observe the precautions outlined below, should last a lifetime. In the analytical tables that follow, some of the items have notes which may give helpful information as well as an attempt to indicate the provenance of the item. In the case of the C.M.Taylor materials, with the exception of the SRMs, this is rarely clear. Each item is accompanied by an EDS X-ray spectrum which can assist in identifying X-ray spectral lines and offers reassurance that the item is indeed what it is claimed to be.
Electron beam labels are etched on the epoxy resin surrounding each item. These provide an invaluable navigating tool when viewing in a microscope or electron beam instrument. The optical reflected light micrographs of each item illustrate this point as well as showing the details of each standard.
Many pure metals are inclined to oxidize if left exposed to air, though the metals chosen for inclusion in our standards are in general robust. However, it is recommended that mounts containing metals be stored in vacuum desiccator, or at least in a dry, preferably inert atmosphere. The Rare Earth elements are particularly sensitive in this respect. Minerals, by their very nature are more stable, but should always be kept in a dry protected place.
If it should become necessary to polish the surface of a standard mount, this may be done by buffing lightly with a soft cloth. Kleenex tissue may occasionally produce scratches, so be careful! A fine metal polish such as Wenol may be applied at this point, but the oily residue should be removed with a solvent such as alcohol before carbon coating. If your mount has electron beam etched identification labels, they will survive through two or three light repolishing processes, but can be enhanced by the procedure described below. Carbon coating, if applied correctly, will survive light buffing. Faraday cups should be removed during polishing to prevent the aperture becoming contaminated.
Solvents such as alcohol - methanol or isopropanol (which can be bought in drug stores under the name of "rubbing alcohol") may be applied with safety. Acetone is also harmless, but laboratory grade acetone tends to leave a significant residue after evaporation, in contrast to alcohol. The mounts may be immersed in the solvent in an ultrasonic cleaner, but for no more than 5 seconds at a time. The labels are affected strongly by ultrasonic cleaning. The sides of the etch pits comprising the individual letters of the labels become fractured in the process. Up to a point this will widen, possibly deepen and actually enhance the appearance of the label, but if carried to excess the etch track will become broadened to a point where it becomes indistinct. Repeated monitoring under an optical microscope is advisable during this operation.
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