The SEM uses electrons rather than light waves to examine surfaces, permitting much greater magnification, resolving power and depth of field.
Our SEM capabilities provide us with high resolution imaging at magnifications up to 300,000X. This allows us to examine and characterize particles and nanoparticles, fracture surfaces, surface morphologies, composites and their constituents, and microstructures of prepared cross sections.
Through the addition of energy dispersive x-ray spectrometry (EDS) we can simultaneously detect all elements down to carbon (atomic number 6), allowing us to characterize most materials.
Field Emission SEM
The Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscope (FE-SEM) is similarly configured to a conventional SEM, except that a field emission electron source is used, which permits higher image resolution to be attained, increased signal to noise ratio, and increased depth of field.
An FE-SEM source produces electrons by applying a high voltage to a very sharp point, extracting the electrons directly, and only from the point. The coherence and very small diameter of this source increases the useful magnification of the SEM by a factor of ten.