scanning electron microscopy

SEM Services

The SEM services provided by PVD Products offer the benefits of production quality monitoring and troubleshooting, failure evaluation, process parameter evaluation, and R&D assistance for new products. All data is provided to the customer on a compact disc or can be downloaded to your computer from our secure FTP site.

Services Overview

Instrumentation and Software

The SEM instrumentation and software at PVD consists of the following:

  • Amray 3600 Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscope
  • Guaranteed resolution of 40 Angstroms at 1 kV and 15 Angstroms at 15 kV
  • Computer controlled, motorized stage and load lock capable of handling up to 8-inch diameter samples for rapid sample turnaround
  • Multi-sample holder allows the viewing of up to 15 samples at a time
  • Our electron gun is a patented Schottky source that ensures excellent images at both high and low accelerating voltage
  • On-board software provides for simple particle measurement and more advanced CD measurement utilizing video profile analysis


All images are stored in standard Tiff format and are easily convertible to other formats. Our powerful field-emission SEM allows you to do the following:

  • Collect digital images at 640 x 480, 1280 x 960, or 2048 x 1920 pixels
  • Magnification range of 10x to 300,000x and more on most samples
  • View your samples uncoated at all accelerating voltages with excellent signal and resolution
  • Perform quantitative and qualitative X-Ray analysis with high count rates at all accelerating voltages

Digital Reporting

We provide several different ways to report your results:

  • All SEM images, X-Ray spectra, and data can be provided on a USB drive
  • Images and/or spectra can be incorporated into a Microsoft Word report at no extra cost
  • Images and X-Ray data can be incorporated into a PowerPoint presentation, for a small fee
  • The resulting images and data can be made accessible on secure, cloud-based storage

X-Ray Analysis

X-Ray analysis has proven to be very informative when run in combination with scanning electron microscopy. This is because the SEM has the ability to magnify objects many times their size and bring the micro-world into our view. With this view, we are not only able to see the micro-structure of the unseen world, but discover the elements that make it up with X-Ray analysis. For this reason, PVD Products offers such analysis in conjunction with SEM services.

X-Ray analytical equipment and software

  • Noran System Six with Light Element Detector
  • Resolution of 128.0ev at Mn FWHM
  • Element detection to 0.3% weight mass
  • Instant qualitative and quantitative data generation
  • “Point and Shoot” capabilities — grab images and perform analysis in one step
  • Spectral Imaging — X-Ray data stored for every pixel for easy analysis of large areas
  • Analog and rapid digital X-Ray mapping
  • All data and spectra easily exported to standard formats


Further reading

If you are interested in finding out more about scanning electron microscopy, or microscopy in general, check out the following:


For those unfamiliar with the scanning electron microscope and X-Ray analysis, here are a few important words to know:


Short for Scanning Electron Microscope

Scanning Electron Microscope

The SEM is an instrument that scans an electron beam across the surface of an object. The object’s surface is bombarded with electrons, causing electrons to be emitted from the object. Depending on the topography of the object, either more or fewer electrons are emitted at any given instant. This difference in electron density is analyzed by a detector and mapped onto a CRT monitor, creating a black and white image. This whole process, by necessity, must occur under vacuum.

The SEM can be divided into three basic parts:

  1. The Gun – a sharp tungsten filament that emits a stream of electrons. These electrons can be accelerated at different voltages.
  2. The Column – contains electromagnetic lenses that make the electron “spot” smaller and the coils that scan the beam over the sample.
  3. The Chamber – contains the final lens that focuses the electron beam to produce a sharp image. It also holds the sample on a special stage where it can be seen and moved around.

Magnification of an object is created and controlled by a set of magnetic coils that determine the size of the area being scanned. The larger the area being scanned, the lower the magnification. The smaller the area being scanned, the higher the magnification.

X-Ray Analysis or X-Ray Microanalysis

There are two generally used forms of X-Ray analysis on scanning electron microscopes. In one form, an X-Ray detector sorts out X-Rays according to their wavelength. In the other, X-Rays are sorted according to their energy.

At PVD Products, we utilize the latter type of detector, which is known as an Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectrometer or EDS. When the electron beam scans over the object being viewed, it emits not only more electrons that go into imaging, but also X-Rays.

If the SEM has a special detector inside the chamber, these emitted X-Rays can be detected and then sorted according to their discrete energies. Each discrete energy represents an element of the atomic table.

Customize A System

Do you know the specifications you need to reach?
Contact us to discuss a custom system.

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