A system and method for sub-micron analysis of a chemical composition of a specimen are described. The method includes providing a specimen for evaluation and a thermal desorption probe, thermally desorbing an analyte from a target site of said specimen using the thermally active tip to form a gaseous analyte, ionizing the gaseous analyte to form an ionized analyte, and analyzing a chemical composition of the ionized analyte. The thermally desorbing step can include heating said thermally active tip to above 200.degree. C., and positioning the target site and the thermally active tip such that the heating step forms the gaseous analyte. The thermal desorption probe can include a thermally active tip extending from a cantilever body and an apex of the thermally active tip can have a radius of 250 nm or less.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH
This invention was made with government support under Contract No. DE-AC05-00OR22725 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The government has certain rights in this invention.