Scanning electron microscopy SEM-EDX in an analytical laboratory

What exactly is Scanning electron microscopy ?

Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM-EDX) is an analytical technique which uses a Field Emission Gun (FEG) and produces high resolution images of a sample’s surface (1 000 000x zoom)

This new SEM-EDX with  column signal detection 20 times more powerful than a conventional Scanning Electron Microscope allows FILAB to carry out analysis with high added value and to get much clearer images for fast, non-destructive and accurate observations and investigations.

The FILAB analytical laboratory is today one of the first French laboratories to own a Zeiss GEMINI SEM microscope. This analytical tool is particularly powerful and efficient for rapidly diagnosing pollutants or for performing more complex expertise.


Discover examples of possible applications for a SEM-EDX microscope, specific to your field :

Take advantage of FILAB’s services and of the performance of a latest generation SEM-EDX-FEG :

  • An in-lens detector for high resolution pictures down to roughly 1nm with acceleration voltage of approximately 1kV.
  • A variable pressure mode (VP) for insulating samples to perform  non-destructive analysis on all types of materials (without metallization)
  • A transfer airlock which allows “large” samples to be rapidly and cleanly inserted
  • An 80mm² Energy-dispersive X-ray probe for performing semi-quantitative chemical analysis and  mapping even on lighter elements 

the positive aspects of filab

Technical expertise and extensive experience in many sectors of industry
Direct contact with one of our experts
Fast turnaround (24h priority service available)
Possibility to attend the analysis process
Competitive pricing

SEM-EDX analysis is a microscopy technique used for imaging and analysis of elements and chemical composition. This technique combines scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX). SEM-EDX analysis allows the surface structure and chemical composition of materials to be observed at high magnifications. The combination of these two techniques allows a detailed study of individual particles and surface characteristics of the material, which can be as small as 1 nanometre. The analytical information obtained from this analysis can provide valuable insights into the properties and characteristics of the sample in question. In addition, it can be used to identify contaminants or other impurities that may be present in trace amounts. SEM-EDX analysis is often used in a wide variety of applications, including materials science and forensic analysis. With this advanced technique, researchers can obtain precise information about the chemical composition of samples on a very small scale.


The SEM-EDX analysis process begins by placing the sample in the chamber of an electron microscope. The electrons emitted from the sample then pass through an energy filter to produce secondary X-rays which are detected by the EDX detector. The energy dispersed X-ray data is then analysed to determine the composition and concentration of elements present in the sample. This analysis can provide accurate results on particle size distribution, crystal structures, oxidation states and other characteristics of individual particles.

SEM-EDX analysis is used in a wide range of industries including materials science, aerospace engineering, medical research, electronics manufacturing, environmental studies and forensic analysis. SEM analysis can be used to analyse and identify contaminants or other trace impurities in materials and components. It can also help researchers to better understand the surface characteristics of materials, such as particles or nanoscale structures. In addition, SEM-EDX analysis can provide valuable information on the composition and concentration of elements present in samples for a variety of applications. In addition, this microscopy technique has been successfully used by the pharmaceutical industry to detect active ingredients in drug samples with high accuracy.

EDX analysis (Energy dispersive X-ray (EDX) analysis) or EDX-analyse is performed using an EDX probe. This is a spectroscopic instrument, using X-rays to explore the chemical properties of elements present in a material. Combined with other complex material failure analysis techniques, EDX probes help analysts to understand the cause of material deterioration, and to develop appropriate solutions to prevent such material failures. Laboratories such as FILAB offer in-depth material failure analysis using EDX analysis equipment..


The EDX probe or EDX detector receives photons emitted by the material following electronic excitation by a special device. The EDX probe then measures the energy generated by the material. Each chemical element has a characteristic energy value, making it possible to identify the elements contained in the material.

Based on physico-chemical detection, an EDX probe is a laboratory tool for analyzing different types of materials. The materials that can be analyzed with an EDX probe are varied, from steel to polymers to metal alloys, but also glass, powder …


Recourse to this analysis is made following various problems: identify material family, metal microstructure, powder morphology or explore surface coating or defects, pollution, corrosion, material cracking…


This technology is very useful for characterizing the properties of materials, for example, to determine their composition, purity or concentration of specific elements. It is therefore the tool of choice in our laboratory for accurate and reliable analysis of materials.


SEM-EDX analysis can provide several types of information relating to  materials and surface characterization :

  • Imaging: scanning electronic microscope provides detailed images of the sample surface, revealing its topography and structure on a microscopic scale.
  • Elemental composition: Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (EDX-analyse)determines the chemical elements present in the sample, and their relative quantities. This makes it possible to identify the constituent elements of a material, or to detect the presence of specific elements.
  • Elemental mapping: SEM-EDX analysis can also generate elemental distribution maps in the sample, enabling the spatial distribution of chemical elements to be visualized.
Thomas ROUSSEAU Scientific and Technical Director
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