scanning electron microscopy
scanning electron microscopy
Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) banner 1

Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)

The profound depth of field and detail in images obtained through scanning electron microscopy (SEM) will change the way you see your material.

While traditional light microscopy is limited to magnification of 1000x (under very specific conditions) before details become indiscernible, electron microscopy can reach magnifications of many times that. In general terms, a focused beam of electrons scans the surface of the sample, which in turn produces secondary and backscattered electrons. The instrument’s detector(s) collect these emitted electrons and translate the signal into a high-resolution, multi-dimensional image of the sample’s surface.

These vivid images of the topography of your sample’s surface can stand alone as an important source of information (e.g., general size and morphology, texture, surface variations, density, etc.) or complement the data obtained through other physical characterization analyses (e.g., particle size, porosity, BET surface area, etc.) available at PTL.

Features of our SEM instrument, the JEOL NeoScope II JCM-6000 Benchtop SEM, include:

Magnifications of 10 to 60,000x for secondary electron images and 10 to 30,000x for backscattered electron images (sample dependent).

Dual frame imaging which allows for a comparison between two images.

A tilt/rotation motor drive specimen holder allowing for focused and optimized sample orientation thus highlighting features of interest.

Accommodation of sample sizes up to 70 mm in diameter and 50 mm in height.

SEM benefits many industries, including:

Biotechnology & biomedical devices
Beauty & cosmetics

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  • Useful for examining general size and morphology, texture, surface variations
  • Capable of much higher magnification than optical microscopy


  • Particulate must be dry prior to analysis
  • Can accommodate sample sizes up to 70 mm in diameter and 50 mm in height

Sample Requirements

Sample amount is not an easy question to answer, since it depends on the particle size and general nature of the material. Ideal sample amount is up to 500 mg for solid samples. For liquid samples, particulate would need to be captured and dried prior to analysis.

Smaller samples may be able to be run – please contact us to share specific information about your sample and options for suitable sample quantities.

Detection Range

Particulate can be detected down to about 20 nanometers (nm), up to a max size of 70 mm diameter x 50 mm height (~2.75 in x ~1.96 in).

Data Reported

A typical SEM image package includes up to 8 images at increasing magnification (scale bar included on images for reference).


PTL uses the JEOL Neoscope II for our Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) analyses.

JEOL Neoscope II

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