Cathodoluminescence microscopy

Gatan MonoCL3 spectral cathodoluminescence spectrometer and imaging system attached to the sample chamber of the LEO 435VP variable pressure scanning electron microscope
Colour SEMCL image of annealed granulated quartz fabric within a microcataclastic deformation band from the Permian Penrith Sandstone. Colour SEMCL imaging reveals different generations of quartz cement in different luminescence. Colour CL image produced by digital combination of separate red, blue and green images recorded sequentially by spectral SEM-CL imaging
Optical cold-cathode cathodoluminescence image of calcite crystals lining a fracture, showing very scale growth zoning highlighted by contrasting luminescence characteristics

BGS offer facilities for both SEM-based cathodololuminescence microscopy and optical cold-cathode cathodoluminescence microscopy (optical CL microscopy).

Optical CL microscopy is particularly useful for petrographic analysis of carbonate mineral fabrics, including limestone petrography and carbonate mineral growth zoning and microstructures. The technique is complementary to optical microscopy and scanning electron microscopy-based cathodoluminescence microscopy.


  • Technosyn 8200 MkII cold cathode luminoscope attached to an Nikon optical microscope. Includes digital camera attachment.
  • Oxford Instruments MiniCL cathodoluminescence detector for cathodoluminescence imaging on the LEO 435VP scanning electron microscope.
  • Centaurus cathodoluminescence detector for cathodoluminescence imaging on the FEI Quanta 600 environmental scanning electron microscope.
  • GATAN MonoCL3 cathodoluminescence spectrometer on the LEO 435VP scanning electron microscope, for spectral cathodoluminescence imaging and analysis.


The cathodololuminescence microscope facilities contribute to projects across a range of the BGS science programme, including:

  • Characterisation of lithologies and engineered barrier materials intended for radioactive waste disposal and carbon dioxide capture/storage.
  • Natural analogue studies for radioactive waste management and carbon capture and storage.
  • Research on mineral sequestration of carbon dioxide.
  • Provision of petrographic information on quartz and carbonate cement stratigraphy for use in the evaluation of diagenetic evolution of hydrocarbon reservoirs and aquifers, and to understand the controls on reservoir and aquifer properties.
  • Cathodoluminescence imaging and characterisation of growth zoning of zircons for single-zircon U-Pb dating by PIMMS.

Staff and facilities are also in constant demand for direct consultancy analysis and interpretation by external clients including: oil, mineral and mining companies; engineering and utility companies; consultancies; university departments and local authorities.


Please contact Dr Jeremy Rushton for further information.