SEM Elemental Analysis (EDS, EDX)

Energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDXS) also known as EDS and EDX analysis is a qualitative and semi-quantitative x-ray microanalysis technique which can provide information about the elemental composition of the sample.

The SEM/EDS system is a powerful instrument which combines scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) capabilities. The SEM can magnify the area of interest to 300,000x, scan these regions, create an image of the structure of the surface and save it. The area of interest evaluated with the SEM can be analysed with EDS to determine the specific elements that comprise the area.

The SEM/EDS system has broad applications from collecting a spectrum to performing complex phase analysis. It can identify major inorganic elements in microscopic samples and small areas of interest on a sample. It is also capable of identifying the elements present in contamination particles as small as one micrometre in size.

How it works

You send us your samples and let us know what you wish to analyse, along with elements you are looking for. Your sample will need to be prepared first. All samples for SEM analysis need to be thoroughly dry and conductive. We will perform the SEM EDS analysis and send you a detailed report.

If you have experience operating a SEM EDS system or if you would like to do the analysis yourself, it is possible (if you are not familiar with our instrument) for us to show you how to use the instrument so you can analyse your sample. Please see use of our instruments (SEM, TEM, Microprobe) page for more information.


What are the limitations of SEM EDS?

Your sample must be solid, dry and fit inside the SEM chamber. If it’s larger, you can cut it to smaller pieces or ask us and we’ll do it for you.

Ideally, we would like to know which elements you are looking to analyse. The reason is because SEM/EDS cannot detect very light elements such as H, He and Li. As a general rule, elements with atomic number below 11 (Na) cannot be realistically detected using the SEM/EDS. Also, elements such as carbon, oxygen, nitrogen and sulfur can be detected for their presence, however cannot be quantified reliably. This is due to likely omnipresence of these elements in the environment, so the stub, your sample surface and the SEM chamber may be contaminated.

What is the cost of the service?

This will largely depend on the scale of analysis you wish to have. As an idea, for 1 SEM-EDS sample analysis it would be around £400. 

How long does it take?

We aim to perform all analysis between 2 to 4 weeks after receiving the samples. Please contact us to find out more.