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Scanning Electron Microscopy with Energy Dispersive Analysis (SEM/EDS)

Scanning Electron Microscopy

The Hitachi S-3400N Variable Pressure SEM is equipped with an EDS detector and Thermo Noran System Seven software. A variable pressure (VP) option allows for analysis of non-conductive materials.Secondary electron (SE) and backscattered electron (BSE) detectors allow for multiple imaging options.An internal camera provides video feed of the sample during an analysis.This instrument is capable of remote operation of the electron imaging functions.

A Hitachi S510 SEM with an EDS detector and Noran System Six software is also available. These instruments are used for studies of surface morphology and bulk Elemental Analysis and mapping of samples such as electronic components. Images and data are easily captured by the software for rapid electronic distribution. MSC staff has worked with regional businesses to study defects in machined parts and the elemental makeup/distribution of alloys.     

  • Resolution: 3.0 nm (SE, high vacuum mode)     
  • Elements Detected: Be to U     
  • Detection Limits: 1000 ppm (element specific)     
  • Common Uses:  Electronic Components, Coating Thickness measurements, Biological materials, Geological thin sections, Failure Analysis     
  • Strengths: Remote Operation, Elemental Mapping,  Feature Measurement Tools     
  • Constraints: Sample size constraints – usually a 4"x3"x2",  maximum.2 kg weight maximum,   Non-conductive samples present additional challenges, Electron beam and vacuum can deform sample


Scanning Auger Nanoprobe (SAN)

Scanning Auger Nanoprobe (SAN)

The Physical Electronics PHI 680 uses Auger Electron Spectroscopy (AES) to determine the elemental content of the top few atomic layers of a sample. It is also equipped with a scanning electron microscope (SEM) and ion sputtering capabilities, allowing for depth profiling of samples.     

  • Lateral Resolution: 13 nm     
  • Depth Resolution: 0.5 to 10 nm     
  • Elements Detected: Li - U     
  • Detection Limits: 0.1 – 1 atomic %     
  • Common Uses: Electronic Components     
  • Strengths: Ultimate in Surface Sensitivity for Elemental Analysis (top 10 nm), Elemental Mapping,  Depth Profiling using Argon Sputtering     
  • Constraints: Sample size constraints – usually a 3"x3"x2" maximum, Sampling depth is dependent on the material, Samples need to be electrically conductive, Requires sample compatible with ultra-high vacuum


Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM/EDS)


The JEOL 2010 200 kV transmission electron microscope provides high resolution nanoscale images of materials and electron diffraction patterns, which provide crystallographic information. The TEM is capable of magnification up to 1 million times, providing spatial resolution of 1-10 nm.The instrument is also equipped with a Thermo Noran System Seven energy dispersive x-ray analysis (EDS) unit, allowing for elemental analysis.     

  • Resolution: 1 nm      
  • Elements Detected: Be to U     
  • Common Uses: Nanoparticles, Biological materials, Air particulates     
  • Strengths: Nanoscale Imaging, Elemental Analysis,  Feature Measurement Tools     
  • Constraints: Sample size constraints – usually deposited on a 3 mm metal or carbon grid, Non-conductive samples present additional challenges, Electron beam may deform sample


Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM)

Atomic Force Microscopy

The Asylum Research MFP-3D SA conducts three dimensional measurements on the nanoscale. The microscope is equipped with temperature controls for sample heating. The AFM can image samples in liquid environments as well as in air, making this a powerful tool in research areas including materials science and life science. Eight Nanosurf easyScan2 AFMs allow students to have hands on curricular experiences involving atomic force microscopy.     

  • Resolution:     
  • Common Uses:  Nanoparticles,  Microelectromechanical Devices (MEMS)     
  • Strengths: Nanoscale Imaging     
  • Constraints: Samples should be mounted on a flat substrate, such as cleaved mica



Raman Microscope

Raman Microscope

The Horiba XploRA Raman microscope provides structural characterization of organic and inorganic molecules in solids, liquids and on surfaces by measuring the molecular vibrations induced by a laser beam. The Raman system couples optical images with high resolution chemical mapping allowing the chemical image to be super imposed on the optical image. The system includes polarization optics and a fiber-coupled probe for analysis of objects which do not fit in the enclosure.     

  • Spatial Resolution: < 1 um     
  • Spectral Resolution: 1.1 cm-1 /pixel     
  •  Laser Excitation: 532 nm and 785 nm     
  • Common Uses:     
  • Strengths:     
  • Constraints: Samples fluorescence can limit Raman usefulness,  Requires standards to be more than qualitative


Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM)

Scanning Tunneling Microscope

The STM is a custom built chamber system housing an Omicron STM head with a RKH Technologies Model SPM 100 control system. The STM is capable of imaging the surfaces of conductive samples down to the atomic scale. The STM works by moving a sharp tip to within 1 nm of a surface, applying a voltage between the tip and the sample, and measuring the resultant tunneling current. As the tip is moved across the sample the tunneling current will vary based on it's the proximity to the atoms resulting in an atomic scale image.     

  • Resolution: 0.1 nm lateral and 0.01 nm depth     
  • Common Uses: Research in imaging surface structures and morphology at the atomic scale, Understanding surface reconstruction and surface point defects     
  • Strengths: Highest resolution microscope available, capable of imaging individual atoms and atomic-sized defects,  capable of mapping out surface states present, and how various defects modify those defects,  capable of monitoring surface reactions down to the atomic scale     
  • Constraints: Sample must be ultra-high vacuum compatible,  Sample must be conductive, extremely clean and stable


 IR Camera

IR Camera

The FLIR E50 IR camera provides thermal imaging of a test system and is capable of overlaying an optical image with a thermal image. The system is also capable of recording a video of the thermal image to monitor temperature changes as a function of time within an experiment.     

  • Thermal Resolution: 240 x 180 pixels     
  • Temperature Range: -20° C – 650° C     
  • Thermal Sensitivity: <0.05° C     
  • Accuracy: +/- 2% or +/- 2° C     
  • Common Uses: Locate energy loss regions of an insulated system     
  • Strengths: Portable and easy to use     
  • Constraints:


Optical Microscopes

Optical Microscope

The metallurgy preparation area has 2 Olympus microscopes with image capturing capabilities. The SZ61 Stereoscope is equipped with a high resolution Olympus SC100 camera and has a magnification range from 0.67x to 4.5x. The BX51 Microscope is an upright inspection instrument, featuring both bright field and dark field optics with 5x, 10x, 20x and 50x objective optics (NA = 0.8 at 50x). The BX51 has light sources for both reflected light and transmitted light measurements, a wide variety of filters and polarizers for enhancing image contrast and an Olympus DP72 camera to capture high resolution images.

Olympus OLS-4100 (LEXT) Confocal Laser Scanning Microscope

The Olympus OLS-4100 ("LEXT") is a confocal laser scanning microscope optimized for metrology and other reflected-light applications.The system is capable of rendering 3D images and height maps of opaque surfaces using a 405 nm violet laser with a height
resolution ~5 nm and an x-y resolution of 120 nm. A traditional white light source and detector
are also included for composite and color-overlay imaging.

  • Resolution: 5 nm (height) and 120 nm (x-y)
  • Common uses: Height mapping, surface roughness, profilometry, failure analysis, quantitative metrology
  • Strengths: Fast 3D rendering of surfaces at a variety of length scales from fully macroscopic to sub-micron.User friendly software for easy montaging and generating composite white light/laser images. No sample preparation required.
  • Constraints: Opaque, reflected-light surfaces only.Resolvable depth limited by working distance of objective lens in use.


Laser Scanning Confocal Fluorescence Microscope

The Nikon A1r laser scanning confocal fluorescence microscope can characterize fluorescence or reflected light from samples on an
inverted microscope stage. Confocal scanning gives high xy and z resolution compared to standard light microscopy and can be used to generate 3D reconstructions of samples. Customized experiments can be conducted using different combinations of components on this confocal microscope.

Common Uses: Acquisition of confocal fluorescence or reflected light and transmitted light images. Up to four emission windows can
be detected simultaneously. Typical samples include fixed biological or other samples with multiple fluorescent dyes to generate 3D reconstructed images from 2D scanning confocal data or fast data collection of samples in motion using resonant scanning.


  • Eyepiece options: transmitted light source and LED light source with epifluorescence cubes and DIC optics for locating samples
  • Objectives: 10x, 20x, 40x oil immersion, and 60x oil immersion
  • Stage control: Automated xy control for image tiling, automated z (piezo) control for fast z scanning, and automated focus control
    for long time experiments
  • Excitation wavelengths: 40 mW Argon ion laser with 458 nm, 471 nm, 488 nm, and 514.5 nm wavelengths available, solid state lasers 405 nm,
    561 nm, and 640 nm wavelengths available