Advanced Material Characterisation with Scanning Electron Microscope

11 April 2021 - Experiments by Product Groups

Recently ticem gave a new image to its material characterisation skills on building materials and added Scanning Electron Microscope with Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy (SEM-EDS) into its laboratory services.

This system provides the necessary data for material research, quality control, contaminant identification and failure analysis by performing surface analysis and targeted element analysis. For that matter, SEM-EDS can be used to study and characterize a wide variety of materials for construction technology, architectural conservation studies and many other disciplines. 

SEM can visualise surface topography and surface structure of a material falling in a micron- to nano-scale size. Ranging from highly conductive to insulating materials, the samples can be observed through Backscattered Electrons (BSE) and Secondary Electron (SE) within a range of 4.8-15kV accelerating voltage. The magnified images on SEM can visually exhibit the material characteristics of a sample such as mineral formations, surface roughness, surface fissures or any other features for microanalysis and thus support researchers and manufacturers in their product development projects. ticemlabs also offers Automatic Image Mapping application for visual documentation of the samples. In this application, multiple SEM images are collected automatically and integrated into one big image for wider areas. 

As the SEM-EDS system analyses micro-volumes, it is most suitable in cases where the size and number of samples must be kept to a minimum, such as architectural and art conservation projects. Samples smaller than 100 x 32 mm can be examined in this system and they must be conductive or covered with conductive materials such as gold and carbon. Powder products can also be examined after physical fixation.

The SEM images can be supported by Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy (EDS) for advanced knowledge on the material. EDS is an analytical technique that is used for the chemical characterization of a sample via elemental analysis. It can be performed on a point, a line and an area. A detailed elemental analysis can be applied on a selected point or a straight line. In this way, the presence and variation of elements can be analysed and the percentage of elemental compositions can be calculated. Numeric and graphic data can be gathered in this analysis. On the other hand, the area scanning option creates a color-coded element map which shows the distribution of elements in the sample. EDS analyses can be performed according to the desired resolution and measurement timing. The highest level of information can be provided by using detailed element analyses and element maps together. 

Until now, ticemlabs has provided SEM-EDS services for cement-based products with and without strengthening textiles, repair mortars and historical building materials, metal/epoxy structural adhesive bonding systems and powderized products.

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