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Welcome to the Microanalytical Laboratory

The Concord University Microanalytical Laboratory houses two major instruments: an ARL-SEMQ electron microprobe and a Horiba XGT-5000 micro-X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analytical microscope.  Both instruments are highly useful tools for teaching and research because they have multidisciplinary applications and can acquire precise quantitative chemical and spatial information from solid materials. The combination of the two instruments substantially expands the range of applications which the microanalytical facility can address.

The electron microprobe is housed in the Department of Physical Sciences (chemistry, geology, physics) in a dedicated 500 ft2 ground-floor laboratory.  This instrument is the only electron microprobe in West Virginia and is Concord University's most significant piece of major research instrumentation.

The XRF is housed in a separate laboratory on the third floor and is capable of qualitatively mapping the elemental composition of solid materials from areas as large as 10 cm x 10 cm with a resolution of 0.01-0.1 mm.  Using transmitted X-ray imaging on the XRF, internal structures and defects may also be studied.

The combination of two instruments provides users the opportunity to analyze and image chemical variations on both large and small scales.  Regions of interest identified using the XRF may be subsequently studied on the electron microprobe to obtain detailed quantitative analysis and high-resolution imaging. The XRF also provides the capability to study samples that are unstable under the high-vacuum conditions of the electron microprobe or which are easily damaged by the electron beam.

One frequent application of electron microprobe is tephrochronology, the use of volcanic ash and pumice (tephra) as a tool for dating and correlation. Tephrochronology is employed globally with numerous interdisciplinary applications including: environmental and climate change, archaeology, Earth surface processes, ecology, animal and plant evolution, earthquake hazards & neotectonics, volcanic hazards, and even medicine.

The electron microprobe and micro-XRF instruments are complimented by a sample preparation facility which contains sieves, rock saws, thin section grinders, and other equipment. Additional Concord University analytical equipment available for use includes: an atomic force microscope (AFM), polarizing light (petrographic) microscopes, Raman spectrometer, gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer (GC-MS), gas chromatograph (GC), high performance liquid chromatograph (HPLC), Fourier transform infrared spectrometer (FTIR), supercritical fluid extraction equipment, a fluorimeter, and UV/Vis spectroscopy. 

The microanalytical facility is open to academic users from all departments of Concord University as well as to visitors from other schools, universities, government agencies, non-profit organizations, and businesses.

We welcome new users and new applications. If you are interested in using our facilities, or would like additional information, please feel free to contact us.

Capabilities and Applications

The list of potential applications electron imaging and x-ray microanalysis is long and interdisciplinary. Together, the electron microprobe and micro-XRF may be applied to both basic and applied research in many areas. For example:

Archaeology, Art history, Museum curation

Paints and pigments, archaeological glasses, metals and alloys, gemstones, authenticity

Biology, Medicine, and Health

Pharmaceuticals, medical technology and implants, nodule formation in plants, shells, bones and teeth

Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Construction

Concrete, brick, failure analysis, engine wear debris, ceramics and composites, turbines, aerospace

Energy – coal, oil, gas, and more

Analysis of drill cuttings and cores; analysis of trace minerals in coal and coal combustion products; fuel cells; batteries; catalysts


Environmental testing, characterizing and sourcing contaminants, airborne particles, soils

Forensics and Law enforcement

Characterization and detection of evidence: metals/alloys, glasses, paints, soils, fine particles, gun shot residue

Manufacturing and Metallurgy

Product testing, contaminant identification, quality control, R&D, alloys, welding and metal bonding development, corrosion

Mining and Geology

Mineral exploration & development, ore characterization, and mineral processing optimization; gemstones; igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic petrology; faults and fractures; porosity; volcanic ash correlation & dating; meteorites

Semiconductors and Electronics

Solar cells, circuit boards, solder/bonding, defect analysis, compliance testing, thin films and surface coatings, optical fibers

Education and Outreach
Being located at an undergraduate institution, teaching is a major objective of the laboratory. This includes courses, student research, and outreach activities. Two students are also employed in the laboratory and are being trained in sample preparation, instrument operation, and data inspection.

The lab is used in the curriculum in multiple disciplines and in introductory through advanced courses. To date, this includes Geology 101 – Earth & Environment, Geology 370 – Earth Materials and Minerals, Geology 375 – Igneous, Sedimentary, and Metamorphic Petrology,  Chemistry 357 – Analytical Chemistry, Chemistry 358 – Instrumental Analysis, Geology/Chemistry/Physics 420 – Electron Microscopy and X-ray Microanalysis (new Spring 2012).

The lab is also involved in outreach activities. For example, the lab is open to the public during the science open house held in conjunction with the annual Math Field Day. We have also hosted groups of students in the Upward Bound program.
News, Publications, and Conference Proceedings


Recent Publications

  • Kuehn, S.C., Froese, D.G., and Shane, P.A.R., 2011, The INTAV intercomparison of electron-beam microanalysis of glass by tephrochronology laboratories, results and recommendations: Quaternary International. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2011.08.022 Article online(link is external)
  • Allen, J.L. and Shaw, C.A., 2011, Seismogenic structure of a crystalline thrust fault: fabric anisotropy and coeval pseudotachylyte–mylonitic pseudotachylyte in the Grizzly Creek Shear Zone, Colorado: Geological Society, London, Special Publications, v. 359; p. 135-15

Recent Conference Proceedings

  • Kuehn, S.C, Froese, D.G., and Shane, P,  2011, Assessing microanalytical performance using secondary standards: Results of an electron probe interlaboratory comparison using four natural volcanic glasses. Microscopy & Microanalysis 2011, Nashville, TN. Abstract  -  Conference Poster
  • Kuehn, S.C. and Allen, J.A., 2011, A New Electron Microprobe Facility for Teaching and Research in West Virginia: Geological Society of America, 60th Annual Meeting of the Southeastern Section, Wilmington, North Carolina, 23–25 March 2011 Abstract - Conference Poster: low res (511KB) high res (3.5 MB)
Dr. Stephen C. Kuehn
Associate Professor
Director, Electron Microprobe Facility
Science, Room 106
Concord University
PO Box 1000, Campus Box F20
1000 Vermillion St
Athens, WV 24712-1000
(304) 384-6322