Research in Progress: The development of the electron probe x-ray microanalyzer, from 1947 through the late 1950s, with a trail winding through France, the U.S. and Britain.

Updated: June 18, 2013

This all started around 1995-6 or so, when I was clearing out the files of our deceased Dept mineralogist Sturgis "Bull" Bailey (1919-1994) and amongst his papers I found two well-worn copies of the May 1953 issue of Analytical Chemistry, the journal of the American Chemical Society. It was a partial proceedings of a symposium on "X-rays as an Analytical Chemical Tool", held at the September 1952 annual meeting of the ACS. Among the papers was "Point-by-Point Chemical Analysis by X-Ray Spectroscopy" by Castaing and Guinier. "Very interesting" I thought, as I had never seen any mention that Castaing, very early on, had visited the US. Did he visit anyone whilst in the US? Was that a direct "technology transfer"? Also speaking at the meeting was L.S. Birks and coworkers from NRL on XRF.

This has led me to contact some of the 'old timers' and try to learn more about what went on in the 1950s, when we know that 8?10?12? homemade electron probes were being developed.

Stay tuned. More interesting findings are coming...

Very first paper (in French) by Castaing and Guinier on EPMA
given in 1949 in at the July 4-8, 1949 "Conference on Electron Microscopy"
This was the first international EM conference held following WW2

Cover (in color) of Delft Conference Proceedings

2 papers: Castaing and Guinier on the new instrument, and Castaing on EM work on Al-Cu alloy

Complete published Proceedings of the 1949 Delft EM Conference (27 MB)

Thesis as submitted by Castaing in 1951

Cover (in color) of Castaing's Thesis he presented to Andre Guinier

The inside title page of the thesis

Castaing was employed by ONERA as a researcher and developed the electron probe microanalyzer in the course of research with Guinier on the study of Al-Cu alloys. ONERA reprinted his thesis in 1952, which was then distributed around the world.

Very first paper in English by Castaing and Guinier on EPMA
given in 1952 in New Jersey, published in 1953
--lost until now?

Analytical Chemistry, May 1953, volume 25, number 5, pp. 724-726

Pdf (Adobe 5) of Castaing and Guinier, 1953

Castaing's 1966 "Vicissitudes" address

In 1966, Castaing received the Holweck Prize a joint award from the Societe Francaise de Physique and the (British) Physical Society. He gave his interesting "The early vicissitudes of electron probe x-ray microanalysis talk" there. This article has been very difficult to locate, but was found with the help of the Center for the History of Physics of the AIP (College Park, MD).

A History of Cameca, 1954-2009, by Emmanuel de Chambost

Retired Cameca engineer Emmanuel de Chambost provides a fascinating "inside story" of the company that started out making movie projectors and branched out into the scientific field (as well as making the early 'video jukebox', the Scopitone, in the 1960s, The original book was self-published in French in 2009 and an abbreviated version was translated into English in Advances in Imaging and Electron Physics, Vol 167.

Early history of the Microbeam Analysis Society (and EPMA in US) by David Wittry