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We have the ability to detect and determine elemental composition of materials using Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy (EDS) and can analyse samples for the presence elements, substances and particles in a very wide range of materials, just a few examples are:

  • Lead in paint
  • Foreign particles
  • Material surface analysis
  • Wear particle analysis
  • Particle size distribution.

Our SEM is automated and can be set to provide rapid automatic analyses of small particles or fibres at over 300,000x magnification. This analysis can include chemical and morphological examination to characteristics criteria that you require. The automation removes operator subjectivity inherent in time intensive manual SEM or optical characterisation techniques.

By performing an automated SEM-EDS analysis, more particles can be analysed per unit time, allowing for efficient and more complete sample characterisation. For example, specialised SEM-EDS systems, utilizing new software algorithms, we can analyse and classify between thousands of particles per hour, and current trends in detector technology promise to further improve this rate. Automated SEM-EDS also increases the probability of finding and identifying rare materials that are characteristic of forensic and environmental samples.

Automated SEM Analysis Technology

Whereas a light microscope uses visible light and lenses to magnify a sample for analysis, an elemental analysis in an SEM, whether manual or automated, involves the interaction of a high-energy electron beam with the sample of interest, resulting in the generation of back scattered electrons for imaging, and characteristic x-rays for elemental analysis. Back scattered electrons are high-energy electrons that are elastically scattered from within the specimen. Higher atomic number elements tend to back scatter more electrons, and therefore appear brighter with higher grey-level value than for lower atomic number elements.

During automated elemental analysis, these contrast differences can be used to set thresholds to highlight the particles or compositions of interest, while ignoring ubiquitous materials. For example, the software is easily capable of discerning particles with very similar grey scale values. The software can also use morphological parameters to locate particles of interest such as fibres and elongated minerals.

The SEM and its software could also be used for surface condition examinations requiring such high level magnification. Techniques could be developed with you to meet your requirements.