Scanning Electron Microscopy: a Tool for Science and Business

scanning electron microscopy equipmentFor decades, scanning electron microscopy has helped stretch the boundaries of understanding of the world around us for scientists and non-scientists of all ages. Showing magnified images of materials and objects helps bring context to the world we all live in.

Scanning electron microscopy is an analytical testing method that captures high resolution images of objects as small as 15 nanometers. Scanning electron microscopy produces images by scanning samples with a focused beam of electrons. The electrons interact with the atoms on the surface of the sample, and collect information about the sample’s topography and composition.

Scanning electron microscopy is used by scientists in a variety of fields to learn more about the composition and topography of man-made and naturally occurring materials. For instance, scanning electron microscopy has allowed biologists to learn much more about microscopic organisms, like bacteria and viruses, than was previously thought possible. Geologists often use scanning electron microscopy to learn more about crystalline structures.

Lactobacillus bacteria captured by scanning electron microscopy

The high resolution images captured by scanning electron microscopy tend to be crisp, clear and beautiful, making them a great tool for education as well as scientific study.

SEM also has a variety of applications for business.  Industries including microelectronics, semiconductors, medical devices, general manufacturing, insurance and litigation support, and food processing, all use scanning electron microscopy as a way to examine the surface composition of components and products.

Scanning electron microscopy can help businesses involved in the development or manufacturing of products learn more about the composition and topography of products and components. For instance, some products, like stainless steel, must be evenly coated with special chemicals for optimal performance. Scanning electron microscopy can help identify cracks, imperfections, or contaminants on the surfaces of coated products.

Industries, like cosmetics, that work with tiny particles can also use scanning electron microscopy to learn more about the shape and size of the small particles they work with. For instance, particles that are too large or jagged might not flow or mix as well as particles that are small and round. Particles that are the wrong size or shape may have an impact on the consistency or performance of the product. Scanning electron microscopy can be used to identify problems with particle size or shape before products reach the consumer.

Finally, industries that use small or microscopic components to create their products often use scanning electron microscopy to examine small components like fine filaments and thin films. If there is a problem occurring at a microscopic level, scanning electron microscopy can be used to pinpoint the problem and help find a solution.

Contact Innovatech Labs to see how we can help you with materials analysis processes including scanning electron microscopy.

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