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Scanning Electron Microscopy Tool

This page provides details on the scanning electron microscopy (SEM) tool in the Stand-Alone Measurements and Characterization bays of the Process Development and Integration Laboratory (PDIL). This tool enables the energy-dispersive spectrometry (EDS) technique.

Photo of man with glasses sitting in a chair, looking at two monitors with crystal images. To his right is a large white square unit with a smaller maesurement unit sitting on top at an angle. Further to the right and behind is a metal cylindrical chamber with flanges, held within a blue metal rack.

Researcher using a scanning electron microscope in the Process Development and Integration Laboratory.

This tool captures high-resolution images of surface topography of sample surfaces. This environmental SEM can analyze samples in high and low vacuum, eliminating charging problems commonly observed in high-resistivity samples. This tool is interfaced with a ultra-high-vacuum sample transfer station, which allows one to manipulate and transfer from/to other systems in the PDIL while keeping the sample in vacuum.


  • High-resolution imaging of photovoltaic materials and compositional analysis
  • Obtaining electro-optical information (a future application)
  • Analyzing hydrated and high-resistivity large-area samples using environmental SEM

Special features:

  • System is an FEI Quanta 600 with custom interface and chamber, enabling controlled sample transport
  • Three imaging modes: high-vacuum (<4.5x10-6 torr), low-vacuum (0.08 to 1.0 torr), and environmental extended low-vacuum (0.08 to 20 torr)
  • Can analyze large samples, up to 157 mm x 157 mm
  • Resolution is 3.0 nm at 30 keV (secondary electrons), and 4.0 nm at 30 keV (back-scattered electrons)
  • Probe current is continually adjustable up to 2 μA
  • 5-axis motorized stage
    • Z range = 65 mm
    • X,Y = 150 mm
    • Tilt = -5° to 70°
    • R = 360° continuous
  • Can record digital video with up to 4096 x 3536 pixel images
  • Detectors are Everhart-Thornley secondary electron detector (SED), large-field detector (LFD), gaseous SED (GSED), infrared/charge-coupled device (IR/CCD), and solid-state backscattered SED (BSED)

Contact Helio Moutinho for more details.