Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) Imaging

Hi-Vac SEM
Low-Vac SEM
Cryo SEM
TEM Imaging

Scanning electron microscopy presents the opportunity to analyze samples for both morphological characterization and composition. Use of high-resolution field emission SEM can give detailed information on particle size, crystal shape and packing and overall structural characterization. This is extremely helpful in identifying causes for manufacturing inconsistencies or in solving quality control issues. We use scanning electron microscopes with field emission guns capable of high resolution imaging, multiple modes of operation, and elemental analysis.

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High Vacuum SEM

Most samples are imaged under high vacuum conditions for maximum resolution. This can be done with secondary electrons for detailed surface analysis, back-scattered electron detection for better defining element locations, or X-ray analysis for identifying elements present.

Low Vacuum/Environmental SEM

Low vacuum modes of imaging are extremely useful for imaging non-conductive samples. Often these samples are coated with a thin metal layer to provide conductivity. Low vacuum imaging eliminates the need for coating and permits imaging prior to testing components. Backscatter imaging can be used in conjunction with low vacuum. Full environmental SEM is also available permitting imaging at up to 100% humidity.

Low Vacuum SEM


CryoSEM involves freezing of hydrated samples and then examining their structure using SEM while they are frozen at temperatures as low as -130oC. This is the only way to fully evaluate a bulk, hydrated system without withdrawing any of the bound water. This powerful imaging technique allows sublimation of unbound water from the freshly fractured face of the frozen sample, revealing the basic underlying structure. Ideal samples are hydrogels, hydrated coatings and microbeads, tissue replacement products, and polymers that would normally deform under the electron beam.

CryoSEM - DS Imaging