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Trace a zircon’s history with CL imaging

Cathodoluminescence (CL) is a perfect technique for imaging the zonation patterns of zircons and identifying regions of interest for isotope analysis as a prescreening tool for mass spectrometry.

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What we can help you to achieve
  • Understand the growth of zircons over time
  • Prescreen for in-depth high-resolution radiometric dating with secondary-ion-mass spectrometry (SIMS)
  • Prescreen for in-depth atom probe tomography experiments
  • Image and identify rare-earth element trace dopants
Cathodoluminescence large area map of a zircon

Date zircons that are billions of years old

A clear image of the zonation structure is vital for properly dating zircons. This zonation cannot be observed in regular scanning electron microscopy (SEM) but in CL it can be clearly visualized due to its sensitivity to small chemical changes and changes in the crystal defect structure.

Our CL systems provide excellent platforms to quickly and efficiently reveal zonation patterns in Zircons and as such can be employed as an effective screening tool for advanced geological characterization techniques such as mass spectrometry and atom probe tomography.

What can you achieve with cathodoluminescence?

In our CL systems it is possible to acquire (RGB) intensity maps. In such CL images the zircon grains can clearly be distinguished from the surrounding host material, but it also reveals the intragranular structure.

  • Obtain high-resolution zircon (RGB) images revealing internal zonation structure
  • Collect CL images in a fast and efficient manner
  • Use stage tiling to automate your acquisitions and acquire large image mosaics (availability depends on SEM type; enquire with our specialists for more information)

In the SPARC Spectral system, it is possible to perform hyperspectral imaging where a full spectrum is measured for every electron beam position on the zircon. Using our large-area spectroscopy imaging mode it is possible to image a full Zircon in a single spectroscopy scan.

  • Track minute changes in the emission spectrum
  • Quantify the spatial distribution of CL peaks corresponding to different trace elements and defects.
Cathodoluminescence (CL) intensity data of a zircon crystal Secondary electron (SE) data of a zircon crystal
Image slider with cathodoluminescence (CL) intensity data (left) and secondary electron (SE) data (right) of a zircon crystal. Sample courtesy of Siri Simonsen and Bjørgunn H. Dalslåen (University of Oslo)

Use the right products to get the right results

Delmic CL solutions offers a range of powerful and user-friendly cathodoluminescence detectors, which can help you to study zircons. Choose the product fitting your research!

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Want to learn more?

Talk to one of our experts to learn how our solutions can support you in your research.

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Delmic applications specialist Sangeetha Hari