SEM & Elemental Analysis​

Scanning Electron Microscopy

Electron Microscopy Capabilities

Nanoscience Analytical laboratory is equipped with several SEMs with multiple detectors, electron source types, and software packages for automated analysis.

BSE (Backscattered Electron) and SE (Secondary Electron) imaging capabilities are available on our SEMs. Backscattered electrons provide elemental contrast while secondary electrons provide topographical information. The two can also be combined to provide both types of information.

EDS (Electron Dispersive x-ray Spectroscopy) provides elemental information combined with surface and image data. The elemental composition can be analyzed point by point or mapped out over the entire image area and colorized by elemental makeup.

Both solid state Cerium Hexaboride and Tungsten Field Emission (FEG) source types are available. The high-brightness CeB6 electron source provides crisp images, and the field emission source provides extremely high resolution and lower accelerating voltages for sensitive samples.

Automation of data collection and the associated analysis software enable the collection and analysis of large amounts of data for statistically relevant information. The morphology and dimensions of particles, fibers, inclusions, and defects can be analyzed in large quantities. Elemental data combined with size and shape data is routinely used for technical cleanliness, steel inclusion, and foreign particle detection. Analysis and reporting can be customized for many different applications dealing with features 1 – 100 microns in size.

Standard Capabilities:


SEM resolution can depend on several factors, such as electron source type, vacuum levels, sample conductivity, and detector type. We can generally obtain a 10nm resolution with a CeB6 source and a 2nm resolution with a FEG source. Our magnification range is nominally 80x – 2,000,000x. Consultation with a scientist is needed to better understand how your samples affect our resolution capabilities.

Sample Size

We can accommodate samples up to 100×100 mm in size and a height of 65mm.

Field of View

We can obtain single images down to 80x magnification, but we can also provide high resolution stitched images with a maximum field of view of 8.07mm, a minimum magnification of 31.8x. Stitched images can contain 1,000s of individual micrographs with the final image at gigapixel resolution.

Additional Capabilities

Elemental Analysis (EDS/EDX/EDAX)

Point EDS, line scan EDS and EDS mapping are available. EDS maps can be acquired up to 960×960 pixels and line scans of 512 pixels. The elemental detection capability is from Boron to Americium.

Statistical Analysis & Reporting

Fiber analysis

Automated fiber analysis produces accurate size information of micro and nanofibers. Measurement and analysis of complicated fiber structures, ranging from spun bond and electrospun fibers or melt-blown fiber are possible.

Pore analysis

Automated pore analysis measurements provide a better understanding of the characteristics of the materials and can easily analyze pore parameters such as pore size, aspect ratio, and distribution of pores.

Particle analysis

Automated software analysis to gather morphology and particle size data for submicron particles. Statistically relevant data on particle features such as diameter, circularity, aspect ratio, and convexity can be collected

Sample Preparation:

We can sputter coat non-conductive samples if required. Our SEMs do provide a charge reduction mode, which may be sufficient depending on your resolution needs. We can also cut, polish, and ion mill samples. Our ion mill can cross-section, slope cut, and polish a wide range of materials.

Remote Access:

We can provide you with remote access to our SEMs, and after a short training session, you can control the SEM, and obtain SEM and EDS data on your own.

Combined EDS & Particle/Feature Analysis Applications:

Technical Cleanliness

Customized recipes can be used to provide particle size distribution information and elemental composition, or to look for particulate contaminants. Customized reports that conform to industry standards can also be developed.

Additive Manufacturing

Automated SEM with EDS spectroscopy can be used to characterize the metal powders, determine particle morphology, granulometry, and particle compositions. SEM can also be used to determine porosity and identify potential points of fracture in fabricated parts. Reports that conform with various ASTM standards including ASTM B215-15, and ASTM F1877-16 can be provided.

Steel Quality

Inclusion analysis during the steel-making process and failure analysis of the manufactured components can be achieved by combining EDS with the particle analysis. The size, number, and composition of inclusions can be easily determined.

Contact Us

We are a multi-disciplinary laboratory committed to providing our expertise and efficient analytical services.