Scanning Electron Microscopy Demo

A scanning electron microscope (SEM) is a powerful microscope that uses electrons instead light to view objects in great detail. The shorter wavelength of electrons permits useful magnifications of up to about 100,000X versus only about 2000X for light microscopy. The SEM also provides much greater depth of field than light microscopes, allowing complex, three-dimensional objects to remain sharp and in focus. This gives them lifelike appearance and reveals details that would not be seen by light microscopy.

A scanning electron microscope is one of the best ways to look at objects very closely. We can magnify objects up to about hundred thousand times. We take high-quality digital photographs of everything we see. The EDS system integrated with the SEM enables us to identify the chemical composition of whatever we are looking at. The EBSD system, integrated with the SEM, enables us to identify and evaluate the crystal structure of samples including a technique called orientation imaging microscopy. We frequently use the SEM to look at broken parts like medical implants, turbine blades, fasteners, aerospace components, consumer products, and a wide variety of industrial components. The SEM is an invaluable tool for helping us determine why components failed to perform as they should. We examine small objects like medical devices including catheters, stents, and artificial joints. We look at fibers from rope fabrics and insulation. We also examine foreign materials like tiny particles including fragments that can cause eye injuries. We look at corrosion products to help us understand the causes and remedies for corrosion.

We examine coatings and surface films to identify their chemical composition, their thickness, and the nature of their bond with the parent material. We also examine contaminants to understand their origins and the effects that have on engineering materials. We often examine the microstructures of metals and alloys to help determine how they will perform in service, or what service conditions have done to these materials. This is just a tiny example of the many types of samples and materials that are routinely examined with the SEM. Regardless of the sample, the SEM and its integrated EDS and EBSD systems enables us to:

  • Document the size, shape, surface texture, and appearance of the objects in service
  • Identify chemical composition of whatever were looking at
  • Identify and evaluate their crystal structure

We document our observations, chemistry, and crystallographic data with high-quality digital images, graphics, and data. Our SEM has an unusually large sample chamber that allows us to look very closely at large objects up about the size of a softball. The SEM has a variable pressure mode that allows us to look at nonconductive samples without having to coat them. We can do even higher resolution work by Sputter Coating nonconductive samples with an extremely thin layer of gold or other materials.

We can project live SEM images, chemical data, and crystallographic information onto a large screen in the SEM room and to an even larger conference room so that our clients can comfortably participate in the examination of their samples. We can also transmit live images and data directly to your computer at your office or home. At Stress Engineering Services, all of our electron microscopy is performed by degreed materials engineers, or metallurgists with up to 30 years of experience in the field. Not only are we experts at operating the SEM, we understand the materials that are being examined, and how these materials behave in service.