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Nanotechnology Innovation Center of Kansas State

Scanning Electron Microscope - Hitachi S-3500N 


The Hitachi S-3500N scanning electron microscope (SEM) is a fully digital instrument that provides high resolution (3.0nm) images of a sample by rastering a focused electron beam across the surface and detecting the secondary or backscattered electron signal.  SEM can view specimens by secondary electron imaging, backscatter electron imaging, at high or low vacuum. The low vacuum mode, using the backscatter electron detector, allows viewing of certain specimens that have not been fixed, critical-point-dried, or sputter coated.

An energy dispersive X-ray analysis (EDX) system is attached to provide elemental identification and quantitative compositional information of a sample. All elements from atomic number 4 through 92 can be detected. The images produced by electrons collected from the sample reveal surface topography or mean atomic number differences according to the mode selected. This SEM is closely related to the electron probe and is designed primarily for producing electron images, but can also be used for element mapping, and even point analysis, if an X-ray spectrometer is added.

New software upgrades have been recently installed where digital images can be assembled into plates with detailed information files that contain all the operational parameters associated with the image files. SEM is used in characterization of nanoparticles, particulates, defects, grain structure, aggregation effects, coating thickness on material structures, oxide films, glasses, ceramics, polymers and biological structures.