EDS analysis with SEM: X-ray analysis on the spot

By Jeroen Smulders - November 2, 2017

You probably want to use Energy Dispersive X-­Ray Spectroscopy — or X-­ray/EDS analysis — to determine the elemental composition of a sample. Is it hard for you to get your analysis done proper and fast? And is it even harder to gather quantitative compositional information of your sample quickly?

If so, then it is a good thing that SEM with X-­ray analysis options is available to support you. But as you well know, an SEM is costly and takes up a lot of room. You are not very flexible using it, and it is hard to convince upper management to make such an investment. Luckily, there is desktop SEM.

How GMSI managed to increase their time-to-market by 800% with a desktop SEM  Download the case study and learn how to deliver output quickly while  maintaining a high-quality standard

What is a desktop SEM?

As we wrote in our latest blog, a desktop SEM — also referred to as a personal or benchtop SEM — has a smaller footprint compared to a standard floor model SEM, and dramatically improves lab productivity. Because of its simplified user interface, it provides immediate, local confirmation of the sample’s quality before it is queued for final analysis. The best thing: it is portable. Which means you can place the desktop SEM on your workstation, right next to your sample preparation equipment.

A desktop SEM with an EDS detector

A desktop SEM combined with an EDS detector makes for a very powerful tool: one that quickly produces a visual representation of your sample ánd provides you with the sample’s elemental composition.

SEM EDS X-ray analysis


An EDS detector — integrated into a desktop SEM — enables you to swiftly perform a qualitative ánd quantitative analysis of the elemental composition of your sample. The identification of the peaks in the X­-ray spectrum, and the measurement of the peak intensities for each element happens fully automatically. And supports you to deliver a qualitative analysis of the sample.

SEM X-ray analysis through EDS


The desktop SEM and EDS detector combination helps you to fulfill your goal: to do your X-ray analysis as proper and quickly as possible — on the spot.

For the best performance, you should aim for equipment that is integrated. Which means that the SEM and EDS detector are produced and combined by the same manufacturer. Do note: a desktop SEM and EDS detector are retrofittable. But an integration always requires a specialist, so it is better to opt for hardware that is integrated in the factory.

Also note that hardware only makes up for half of the equation. What is equally important is the software you use to perform your analysis.

Optimally, what you would want to use is an end­-to-­end system: a system where the hard and software are also made by the same manufacturer. An end­-to-­end system provides the most hassle­free experience because there is less disturbance in the communication between your instrument and computer.

What we would like to point out: it is not like your analysis suddenly becomes undoable if your system is not end-to-­end. It is just not as streamlined. So that is why we encourage you to aim for an end-­to-­end sample analysis system.

The benefits of performing EDS analysis with a SEM

Now that you are familiar with the possibilities of a desktop SEM with EDS you might want to know how the combination performs on the work floor. Does it really work as well as it seems? Will it actually improve your working process?

We do not want you to take our word for it. We would rather let a real user elaborate on the applications. That user is our customer Peter Guercio, President of Graphite Machining Services & Innovations.

In his testimonial, Peter explains how they went from outsourcing to insourcing. With the Phenom ProX with EDS on site they no longer need to send samples out for testing and wait for results. A huge time saver and a great benefit to their quality control. Moreover: it brought their latest product release to market 8x faster than before.

Read all about the use of a desktop SEM with EDS and how you could put it into practice. Download the case study now:

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About the author

Jeroen Smulders is a product manager for the Thermo Scientific Phenom Desktop SEM product range at Thermo Fisher Scientific. He plays a leading role in the development and implementation of new software applications for Thermo Fisher Scientific products and shares his best practices with customers to increase their output and get the best results.

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