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Sample Coating for SEM

Modern day Scanning Electron Microscopes (SEMs) are capable of imaging at ultralow voltages or low vacuum modes to handle even the most non-ideal sample types without the need for extensive sample preparation. Low voltage, with its inherent low beam penetration into the sample, allows us to examine fine surface morphology. The added advantage to low voltage imaging is the ability to look at nonconductive samples and minimize charging artifacts. Low vacuum, on the other hand, allows us to look at and analyze non-conductive and outgassing samples at higher voltages required for other analytical techniques such as X-ray Analysis (EDS/WDS), Cathodoluminescence (CL) or Electron Backscatter Diffraction (EBSD). Thus, we have the tools to analyze many sample types with minimal to no sample preparation. A question often asked is with the versatility of today’s SEMs, is there any reason to add a conductive coating when preparing samples for the SEM? And if I add a conductive coating, what do I coat it with? There are a lot of options.

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Other Resources

The following resources are available concerning Sample Preparation related instruments:

  • Image Gallery
    -View a selection of Cross Section Polisher images
  • Mixed Media
    -View our series of videos on the use of the Cross Section Polisher