Micro-thermal analysis employs a scanning probe microscope fitted with a miniature resistive heater/thermometer to obtain
images of the surface of materials and then perform localised thermo analytical measurements. We have demonstrated that it
is possible to use the same configuration to pyrolyse selected areas of the specimen by rapidly heating the probe to 600–800°C.
This generates a plume of evolved gases which can be trapped using a sampling tube containing a suitable sorbent placed close
to the heated tip. Thermal desorption-gas chromatogaphy/mass spectrometry can then be used to separate and identify the evolved
gases. This capability extends the normal visualisation and characterisation by micro-thermal analysis to include the possibility
of localised chemical analysis of the sample (or a domain, feature or contaminant). The isolation and identification of natural
products from a plant leaf are given as an example to illustrate this approach. Preliminary results from direct sampling of
pyrolysis products by mass spectrometry are also presented.