Scanning Microscopy


Synthetic zircon crystals (ZrSiO4), undoped and doped with Y3+, La3+, Ce3+, Pr3+, Nd3+, Sm3+, Eu3+, Gd3+, Tb3+, Dy3+, Ho3+, Er3+, Tm3+, Yb3+, Lu3+, were grown from a flux consisting of a mixture of Li2MoO4 and MoO3 heated to 1125°C and then cooled to 750°C. The cathodoluminescence (CL) spectra of these zircons were analyzed at room-temperature and near liquid nitrogen temperature with a CL spectrometer attached to a scanning electron microscope (SEM). This study highlights the complexity of the intrinsic emission band extending from 200 to 500 nm. The relative intensities of the major emission band centered at 230 nm (5.4 eV) and peaks of less energy were found to depend upon the crystallographic orientation of the crystals. Sm3+, Eu3+, Gd3+, Tb3+, Dy3+, Ho3+, Er3+ and Tm3+-doped zircons display sharp emission peaks being characteristic of the doping rare-earth element (REE). These lines are frequently multiplets but only the average position of the peaks are reported because of the instrumental conditions used in this study. The CL intensities of the intrinsic and extrinsic features were found to depend on the crystal orientation, and numerous experimental factors such as the electron beam energy and the beam current density.

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