The scanning electron microscope (SEM) is a highly powerful microscope, with magnification capabilities in the range of 10 to 100,000X.
The SEM uses an electron beam in conjunction with an electron probe, scanning the sample with a ‘beam of electrons’, to create a visual image. The SEM allows one to view fracture surfaces, or corroded samples at very high magnifications and at greater depths of field (exceptional focus clarity over uneven surfaces) than what is possible by optical microscopy. The SEM is also equipped with Energy Dispersive X-ray (EDX) system which is capable of providing an instant “chemical analysis” to identify material type or identity of corrosion products, thus making the SEM a very valuable instrument in the field of failure and corrosion analysis.
EDX Chemical Analysis
Used in conjunction with the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), the Energy Dispersive X-ray Analysis System is a useful method of determining the bulk chemical composition of a sample as well as determining the microchemical composition of contaminants.
The EDX system is a useful tool for analyzing corrosion products to understand what in the environment is causing the corrosion problem. A second scenario is analyzing contaminant particles (as small as metal filings or slivers) in food products to determine the source of the contamination.