Transmission Electron Microscopy – TEM

TEM is a powerful tool for imaging, spectroscopy, and diffraction analysis.

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    Transmission Electron Microscopy

    TEM is a powerful tool for imaging, spectroscopy, and diffraction analysis. It is possible to image the atomic arrangement of the materials (1-2 A resolution), atomic defects, variation in a lattice arrangement across boundaries, chemical or composition changes, determine the crystal structure and orientation, etc. The elemental distribution could be quantified and mapped.

    In TEM, electrons transmitted through a specimen are analyzed. High energy electrons interact with the specimen to produce various signals such as x-rays, elastically and inelastically scattered electrons, Auger, backscattered electrons, etc. containing different information about the specimen.

    Common Uses

    • Imaging atomic level boundaries in semiconductors
    • Ultra-high precision thickness measurement of atomic layers in physical vapor deposition or atomic layer deposition techniques
    • Asbestos identification in construction material
    • Crystalline phase determination 
    • Sub nanometer atomic lattice dimension mapping
    • Nanomaterials particle analysis
    • Imaging atomic-level defects such as dislocations, lattice defects, grain boundaries, etc.
    • Chemical analysis and high-resolution elemental mapping

    TEM Advantages

    • Atomic-scale imaging of individual atoms
    • A wealth of information including chemistry and crystallography about an ultra-local area of a specimen


    • Samples only small areas, typically a few microns
    • Specimens need to be thin enough to be electron transparent i. e. <100 nm
    • Damages introduced by specimen preparation
    • Electron beam damage introduces artifacts
    • Insulating materials require a conductive coating to prevent charging
    • Time-intensive process


    • Semiconductors
    • Construction
    • Nanotechnology
    • Additive Manufacturing
    • Advanced Materials
    • Automotive
    • Energy Storage and Batteries
    • LED and Display
    • Mining and Minerals
    • Biomaterials

    TEM Laboratories

    • Evans Analytical Group – EAG laboratories
    • Covalent Metrology
    • Asbestos TEM Laboratories, Inc.
    • MVA scientific consultants

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      FAQ on Transmission Electron Microscopy – TEM

      Where Can I Do TEM Analysis Of Materials?

      Our network of material testing labs regularly provides transmission electron microscopy (TEM) imaging services, including high resolution (HR)-TEM, FIB-TEM, Cryo-TEM, and STEM studies. The experts at Infinita Lab are proficient in the TEM method development for sample-specific studies.

      What is transmission electron microscopy (TEM) used for?

      High-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HR-TEM) is an excellent tool for identifying defects, impurities, grain boundaries, determining phases, and their orientations. The driving factor for choosing TEM is its high resolution and magnification up to 50 million times. Additionally, one can obtain chemical composition information at the point of interest with EDS or EELS detectors with the STEM mode.

      What is the difference between SEM and TEM?

      As the name suggests, transmission electron microscopy (TEM) uses transmitted electrons to create images, while SEM uses deflected electrons from the sample. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) is great for 2D and 3D surface imaging for roughness, contamination detection, etc. However, if you are interested in analyzing structural defects or impurities and grain boundaries at high resolution, nanoscale imaging with TEM is the go-to technique.