Advances in SEM Technology for the Quality Control Lab (Quality Magazine)

Advances in SEM Technology for the Quality Control Lab
Jeffrey D. McGinn
Quality Magazine – October 11, 2013

A scanning electron microscope reveals information about changes in microscopic properties of particles

Recent advances in scanning electron microscopy (SEM), particularly in the benchtop realm, enhance quality control procedures of laboratories across a wide range of industries. From semiconductors to pharmaceutical manufacturing, SEMs play a critical role in the analysis of products. The availability of compact benchtop SEMs allows companies to perform analyses in their own laboratories in as little as 15 minutes, saving time and money.

A scanning electron microscope reveals information about changes in microscopic properties of particles. This information may include chemical composition, crystalline structure, morphology, and contaminant identification.

SEMs are often used in conjunction with energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry (EDS) for mapping and for contamination analysis. With their small size, benchtop SEMs allow well-trained quality employees to quickly compare suspect contaminants to reference samples collected from the manufacturing process, reducing turnaround times. These SEMs are also advantageous in addressing customer complaints; for example, trained microscopists can use a benchtop SEM to successfully identify the origin of foreign matter to determine a claim’s validity.

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