Scanning electron microscope (SEM)

SEMs are used for imaging, elemental identification, quantification and mapping of a wide variety of sample types. SEMs in the EMX have been used to analyse many different sample types from bone fragments to organic electronic films to plant cells to catalysts to clays and minerals, to name just a few!

Sample restrictions: Samples cannot be liquids or gases and must be able to withstand high vacuum conditions. Samples must be dry and not contain volatiles.

Zeiss Sigma VP


  • High resolution SEM. Rated up to 1,300,000 x magnification
  • Multiple detectors – VP (variable pressure), BSE (back scattered electron), SE (secondary electron), in lens
  • Bruker EDS system

Analysis types

  • High resolution images
  • Qualitative and quantitative elemental identification and mapping, down to Carbon.

Sample size

  • Maximum sample size: Up to 15mm height, 100mm diameter, 400g weight
Mapping analysis to show the distribution of elements

FEI/Philips XL30 SEM and Oxford EDS with Gatan MiniCL detector


  • Rated to 300,000 x magnification
  • Three detectors – BSE (back scattered electron), SE (secondary electron) and CL (Gatan Mini Cathodoluminescence)
  • Oxford EDS system

Analysis types

  • Capable of capturing images up to 100,000x with difficulty and an ideal sample, or approximately 30,000x for an average sample
  • Qualitative elemental identification down to Na
  • Some elemental mapping capability
  • Sample size

Elemental identification using the Oxford EDS system

Elemental Identification using the Oxford EDS system

Sample preparation devices for SEM analysis:

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.