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Automated scanning electron microscopy (SEM) imaging: how it's used

By Karl Kersten - Aug 16, 2018

In a previous blog, we described how automating scanning electron microscopy (SEM) imaging saves researchers and operators valuable time. A lot of scanning electron microscope users use this for a wide range of purposes. This blog shows an example of how automated SEM imaging is used in the field: it details performing an automated Laser-Induced Damage Threshold test (LIDT).

In a previous blog, we described how automating scanning electron microscopy (SEM) imaging saves researchers and operators valuable time. A lot of scanning electron microscope users use this for a wide range of purposes. This blog shows an example of how automated SEM imaging is used in the field: it details performing an automated Laser-Induced Damage Threshold test (LIDT).

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Sputter coating for SEM: how this sample preparation technique assists your imaging

By Antonis Nanakoudis - Aug 9, 2018

Scanning electron microscopes (SEMs) are very versatile tools that can provide information at the nanoscale of many different samples - with little or no sample preparation. In some cases though, sputter coating the samples prior to working with SEMs is recommended, or even necessary, in order to get a good SEM image. In this blog, we will explain how the sputter coating process works, and to which type of samples it should be applied.

Scanning electron microscopes (SEMs) are very versatile tools that can provide information at the nanoscale of many different samples - with little or no sample preparation. In some cases though, sputter coating the samples prior to working with SEMs is recommended, or even necessary, in order to get a good SEM image. In this blog, we will explain how the sputter coating process works, and to which type of samples it should be applied.

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Buying a scanning electron microscope: how to select the right SEM

By Karl Kersten - Aug 2, 2018

You want to buy a new scanning electron microscope (SEM) because you know you need more SEM capability. Maybe you have a traditional floor model SEM, but it is slow and complicated to operate. Maybe you are using an outside service and the turn-around time is unacceptably long.

You’ve made your case that your company could significantly improve their business performance and you could do your job better if SEM imaging and analysis were easier, faster and more accessible. Can a desktop SEM do what you need? This article provides the answers and helps you to select the right SEM.

You want to buy a new scanning electron microscope (SEM) because you know you need more SEM capability. Maybe you have a traditional floor model SEM, but it is slow and complicated to operate. Maybe you are using an outside service and the turn-around time is unacceptably long.

You’ve made your case that your company could significantly improve their business performance and you could do your job better if SEM imaging and analysis were easier, faster and more accessible. Can a desktop SEM do what you need? This article provides the answers and helps you to select the right SEM.

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SEM automation guidelines for small script development: evaluation

By Wouter Arts - Jul 26, 2018

Scripts are small automated software tools that can help a scanning electron microscope (SEM) user work more efficiently In my previous two blogs, I wrote about image acquisition and analysis with the Phenom Programming Interface (PPI). In this blog I will explain how we can use the physical properties we obtained in the last blog in the evaluation step.

Scripts are small automated software tools that can help a scanning electron microscope (SEM) user work more efficiently In my previous two blogs, I wrote about image acquisition and analysis with the Phenom Programming Interface (PPI). In this blog I will explain how we can use the physical properties we obtained in the last blog in the evaluation step.

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Sample degradation during SEM analysis: what causes it and how to slow down the process

By Karl Kersten - Jul 19, 2018

When using a scanning electron microscope (SEM), the electron beam can, over time, permanently alter or degrade the sample that is being observed. Sample degradation is an unwanted effect as it can alter — or even destroy — the details you want to see, and consequently change your results and conclusions. In this blog, I will explain what can cause sample degradation, and how you can slow down the process.

When using a scanning electron microscope (SEM), the electron beam can, over time, permanently alter or degrade the sample that is being observed. Sample degradation is an unwanted effect as it can alter — or even destroy — the details you want to see, and consequently change your results and conclusions. In this blog, I will explain what can cause sample degradation, and how you can slow down the process.

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SEM automation guidelines for small script development: image analysis

By Wouter Arts - Jul 12, 2018

Scripts are small automated software tools that can help a scanning electron microscope (SEM) user with their work. In my previous blog I wrote about how SEM images can be acquired with the Phenom Programming Interface (PPI) using a small script. In this blog I will explain how to extract physical properties from those SEM images.

Scripts are small automated software tools that can help a scanning electron microscope (SEM) user with their work. In my previous blog I wrote about how SEM images can be acquired with the Phenom Programming Interface (PPI) using a small script. In this blog I will explain how to extract physical properties from those SEM images.

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SEM technology: the role of the electron beam voltage in electron microscopy analysis

By Luigi Raspolini - Jul 6, 2018

When conducting electron microscopy (EM) analysis, there are a few important parameters that must be taken into account to produce the best possible results, and to image the feature of interest. One of the crucial roles is played by the voltage (or tension) applied to the source electrodes to generate the electron beam. Historically, the trend has always been to increase the voltage to improve the resolution of the system.

It is only in recent years that scanning electron microscope (SEM) producers have started to focus on improving the resolution at lower voltages. A major role in this has been the expanding field of application of EM to the life sciences - especially after the introduction of the Nobel prize-winning cryo-SEM technique. This blog will focus on the effects of the voltage on the results of electron microscopy analysis.


When conducting electron microscopy (EM) analysis, there are a few important parameters that must be taken into account to produce the best possible results, and to image the feature of interest. One of the crucial roles is played by the voltage (or tension) applied to the source electrodes to generate the electron beam. Historically, the trend has always been to increase the voltage to improve the resolution of the system.

It is only in recent years that scanning electron microscope (SEM) producers have started to focus on improving the resolution at lower voltages. A major role in this has been the expanding field of application of EM to the life sciences - especially after the introduction of the Nobel prize-winning cryo-SEM technique. This blog will focus on the effects of the voltage on the results of electron microscopy analysis.


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The Phenom Process Automation: mixing backscattered and secondary electron images using a Python script

By Marijke Scotuzzi - Jun 28, 2018

When the primary beam interacts with the sample, backscattered electrons (BSEs) and secondary electrons (SEs) are generated. Images of the samples obtained by detecting the emitted signals, carry information on the composition (for BSE signals) and on the topography (for SE signals). How are BSEs and SEs formed and why do they carry specific information? Moreover, is it possible to get both compositional and topographical information in one image? And how flexible is this solution? In this blog, I will answer these questions and introduce a script that allows users to mix their own images.

When the primary beam interacts with the sample, backscattered electrons (BSEs) and secondary electrons (SEs) are generated. Images of the samples obtained by detecting the emitted signals, carry information on the composition (for BSE signals) and on the topography (for SE signals). How are BSEs and SEs formed and why do they carry specific information? Moreover, is it possible to get both compositional and topographical information in one image? And how flexible is this solution? In this blog, I will answer these questions and introduce a script that allows users to mix their own images.

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EDX analysis with a scanning electron microscope (SEM): how does it work?

By Antonis Nanakoudis - Jun 21, 2018

Scanning electron microscopes (SEMs) employ electron beams in order to get information from a sample at the nanoscale. The main type of signals that are detected are the backscattered (BSE) and secondary electrons (SE), which generate a grayscale image of the sample at very high magnifications. However, there are many other signals which can be a product of the electron-matter interaction, and these can provide additional information about the sample. In this blog we will describe how energy-dispersive X-ray (EDX or EDS) analysis works on a SEM.

Scanning electron microscopes (SEMs) employ electron beams in order to get information from a sample at the nanoscale. The main type of signals that are detected are the backscattered (BSE) and secondary electrons (SE), which generate a grayscale image of the sample at very high magnifications. However, there are many other signals which can be a product of the electron-matter interaction, and these can provide additional information about the sample. In this blog we will describe how energy-dispersive X-ray (EDX or EDS) analysis works on a SEM.

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SEM working principle: the detection of backscattered electrons

By Marijke Scotuzzi - Jun 14, 2018

Backscattered electrons (BSEs) are high-energy electrons that are produced by the elastic scattering of the primary beam electrons with the atom nuclei. The yield of BSEs, that is the ratio of the number of emitted BSEs and the amount of primary beam electrons, depends on the atomic number: the higher the atomic number, or the heavier the element, the brighter the contrast. In the Phenom SEM, BSEs are detected using four-quadrant semiconductor detectors placed above the sample. In this blog, we will explain what a semiconductor detector is and how backscattered electrons are detected in a scanning electron microscope.

Backscattered electrons (BSEs) are high-energy electrons that are produced by the elastic scattering of the primary beam electrons with the atom nuclei. The yield of BSEs, that is the ratio of the number of emitted BSEs and the amount of primary beam electrons, depends on the atomic number: the higher the atomic number, or the heavier the element, the brighter the contrast. In the Phenom SEM, BSEs are detected using four-quadrant semiconductor detectors placed above the sample. In this blog, we will explain what a semiconductor detector is and how backscattered electrons are detected in a scanning electron microscope.

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