A scanning electron microscope (SEM) uses a focused beam of electrons as the illumination source which is scanned or rastered over the surface of a sample in order to generate an image. The shorter wavelength of electrons, relative to photons, allows for significantly higher resolution imaging and magnification of a specimen than is possible with light microscopy. Electron microscopy also provides a much greater depth of field than light microscopes, allowing for the imaging of three-dimensional surfaces or objects.
At Stress Engineering Services, we are equipped with a Tescan Vega II Scanning Electron Microscope as part of our extensive list of analytical equipment. The “wide field” and “depth” imaging modes of our SEM offers even greater depth of field than conventional secondary electron imaging. Additionally, our SEM has an unusually large sample chamber that can accommodate samples larger than a soda can.
Our Vega II SEM is equipped with an EDAX Octane Elect X-ray detector which allows the elemental composition of samples to be determined through energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy. The detector collects and analyzes the characteristic x-rays emitted when the electron beam interacts with atoms in the material sample. The resulting spectrum, which plots x-ray energy against counts, shows the elements present in a selected area in amounts greater than approximately 0.1 wt%. Additionally, the EDAX software can provide a semi-quantitative analysis of the relative concentrations of the elements identified as well as elemental mapping, which shows how the concentration of selected elements varies over a target area.
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