The Robert M. MacKay Electron Microprobe Laboratory (EMPA laboratory) in the Department of Earth Sciences has operated as a regional facility since 1984. In 2006 the lab became affiliated with the Dalhousie Institute for Research in Materials. The EMPA Laboratory serves the needs of both an extended and diverse earth sciences research community and those of the combinatorial and high throughput materials researchers associated with IRM. The lab has developed several general analysis techniques and specialty applications tailored to fit the specific needs of our users.

Our Philosophy

The Dalhousie EPMA Laboratory has, at its core, the following philosophical commitments:

  • To use a multi-disciplinary approach to micro-analysis in the fields of Earth Sciences, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Materials Science and Engineering
  • To foster mutually beneficial relationships with our clients, and to approach their experimental needs from a position of strong understanding
  • To educate students, researchers and industrial clients on the versatility of micro-analysis
  • To develop new analytical protocols for clients who present us with challenging specimens or who request a type of analysis with which we have never dealt before
  • To foster a positive learning environment such that young scholars will experience a high level of mentoring not encountered commonly in other analytical labs
  • To make learning how to operate a complex piece of equipment enjoyable, and imbue users with a level of self-confidence such that they are able to operate the microprobe independently, but with a high level of after-hours support
  • To teach users about data analysis so that they have a more complete understanding of the statistical and scientific significance of their data
  • To encourage users, especially students, how to think, not what to think
  • To work closely with students and their advisors to help them in developing an analytical approach towards sample analysis, taking into account as many variables as possible, e.g., advantages and limitations of microprobe analysis, sample preparation and limitations