Transmission Electron Microscopy – TEM

Transmission Electron Microscopy or TEM is a powerful tool for imaging, spectroscopy, and diffraction analysis. A Transmission Electron Microscope is the most powerful microscopic instrument available and it is used to produce images of electron beam interaction with a sample. TEM performed in our testing labs helps to determine atomic-level structural characteristics of materials required for product design and application.

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    Transmission Electron Microscopy

    Before we understand what is TEM or Transmission Electron Microscopy, we need to understand that TEM is a powerful tool for imaging, spectroscopy, and diffraction analysis. TEM is a powerful microscopy technique used in testing labs, in which a  beam of electrons is allowed to transmit through an ultra-thin specimen in order to interact with the atoms of the specimen. This electron beam generates a highly magnified image of the atoms it interacts with. The images obtained allow us to observe features such as the crystal structure and features in the structure like dislocations and grain boundaries. 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.

    Our testing labs are well equipped to carry out all the routine and tailor-made Transmission Electron Microscopy analyses for the benefit of our clients based in the USA and other parts of the world. Our testing lab experts work tirelessly to provide a world-class TEM testing experience.

    Common Uses of Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM)

    • 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

    Advantages of Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM)

    • 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.

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