Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)
A scanning electron microscope (SEM) is a surface analysis technique frequently used to identify surface features of sub-micron size particles. It is best suited for the analysis of surface fractures, surface contaminants, microstructures, spatial variations in chemical compositions, and crystalline structures. It uses a focused beam of electrons, which is reflected or knocked off the surface or near-surface of the sample to generate high-resolution images. With the working scales in materials getting smaller in industries like microelectronics, SEM has far reaching applications like semiconductor inspections, microchip assembly, failure analysis, quality control, etc.
In SEM, electron-sample interaction generates secondary electrons (SE), backscattered electrons (BSE), and characteristic X-rays. SE and BSE detectors are used to capture these interactions to visualize the samples’ morphological and topographical information. BSE images are also used for the rapid discrimination of the phases in multiphase samples. An Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (EDS) detector within SEM is used to detect the characteristic X-rays and provide qualitative and quantitative elemental analysis of the sample. Environmental SEM (ESEM) is another variant available for analyzing the samples containing water or other volatile substances. 2D elemental mapping and 3D reconstruction of samples are available with FIB-SEM technology.
Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) Common Uses
- Identification of cracks, imperfections, and contaminants on the surface of coated products
- Assessment of nanoparticles in coatings and paints
- Structural analysis of new species of microscopic organisms like bacteria and viruses
- Analysis of particle size and shape in the cosmetic formulations
- Failure analysis of integrated circuit boards
- Analysis of gunshot residue for forensic investigation
- Testing new vaccinations and medicines
- Topographical analysis of the semiconductor wafers
- Simple sample preparation as the sample does not need to be thin
- Data acquisition is rapid and in the digital form
- High resolution (up to 15 nanometers) and three dimensional (3D) images can be obtained
- Easy to operate with user-friendly interfaces
- The sample should be solid and must fit into the microscope chamber
- Electrically insulating samples need the application of an electrically conductive coating, which may result in artifacts
- EDS detector on SEM can not detect very light elements (H, He, and Li), and many instruments are unable to detect elements with atomic numbers less than 11
- SEM must be placed in an area that is free of any possible magnetic, electric, or vibration interference
- Life Sciences
- Mining and Minerals
- Medical and Forensic Science
- Advanced Materials
- Beauty and Cosmetics
Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) Laboratories
- EAG Laboratories, Inc.
- Laboratory Testing, Inc.
- EMSL Analytical, Inc.
- Nanolab Technologies, Inc.
- Atrona Test Labs, Inc.
- ATS Applied Technical Services, Inc.
- Particle Technology Labs
- Jordi Labs
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Secondary Ion Mass Spectroscopy or SIMS is a tool for composition analysis of metals, semiconductors, polymers, biomaterials, minerals, rocks, and ceramics.
Profilometry is the measurement of surface topography. It is used to measure surface roughness, coating thickness variation, flatness, surface curvature,
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FAQ on Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)
Our material testing labs regularly provide scanning electron microscopy (SEM) testing services, including SEM imaging, SEM-EDX, and FIB-SEM analysis. The experts at Infinita Lab are proficient in SEM analysis and method development for sample-specific studies.
Sample preparation and imaging with scanning electron microscopy (SEM) start from $275 per sample surface.
Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) provides high-resolution imaging best suited to visualize surface flaws, fractures, defects, contaminants, etc., at the micro and nanoscales. Furthermore, surface and near-surface elemental composition can be obtained at any point or area of interest.
Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) analysis includes surface and near-surface topography and Z-contrast imaging. Further investigative studies include 2D or 3D imaging, elemental mapping using FIB-SEM technology and EDS detector, respectively.