Background in EELS and EFTEM
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In general, the EELS background originates from:
         i) Excitations of electrons to high vacant energy levels.
         ii) Random, plural inelastic scattering events in the “effective” interaction volume (see Figure 4724a), where the binding energy is less than the edge energy.

Schematic illustration of EELS “effective” interaction volume.

Figure 4724a. Schematic illustration of EELS “effective” interaction volume.

These characteristic ionization edges in EELS are superimposed on a background due to zero and other energy losses. The separation of energy loss signal from the background is necessary for extracting elemental information for elemental quantification and mapping. Due to the complexity of process contributing to the background, it is not possible to model the background from first principles. The method usually performed to calculate the background is to estimate the background contribution under the edge from the pre-edge area.

The background in EELS also varies with specimen thickness. For instance, Figure 4724b shows that the background increases dramatically with increase of the thickness of TEM specimen, while the signal of Pt M4,5 edge decreases significantly. The highest signal in the range of these TEM specimen thicknesses for Pt occurs at 20 nm.

EELS of Pt M4,5 edg

Figure 4724b. EELS of Pt M4,5 edge.