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Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)

A SEM is a valuable analytical tool.  It allows for a non-destructive examination of various types of materials.

Unlike optical microscopy, which traditionally uses light to form an image, the SEM uses electrons to generate an image.  

Since electrons are used instead of light, the sample must be conductive, such as a metal fragment.  If the sample is not conductive, such as a ceramic, the sample typically is sputter coated with carbon, gold or iridium, to allow for proper imaging in the SEM. 

Some advantages of the SEM versus optical microscopy are a greater depth of focus and ability to resolve details on the surface of the sample.  

It also can be combined with a detector for energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS), used to identify the elemental constituents of a sample.  

A disadvantage of SEM versus optical microscopy is the presence of color.  Optical images provide color variations which are not observed in the SEM images, which are shades of grey. Therefore, it is useful to examine samples optically before placing them in the SEM.

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SEMTEC Laboratories, Inc. - 5025 S. 33rd Street - Phoenix, AZ 85040
An ISO 9001 Company
Phone: (602) 276-6138   Fax: (602)232-2225