Nanoscale and Microscale Research Centre

Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)

Our FIB-SEM can perform a multitude of sample preparation, handling and imaging proceedures.

Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)  

The FEI Quanta 200 3D Dual Beam FIB-SEM at the nmRC

Scanning Electron Microscopy Imaging and Analysis

Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) is an imaging technique capable of visualising sample structures on the micro- and nano-scale. It uses an electron beam to scan a sample, and the process generates a range of secondary sample irradiance. This can then be analysed to visualise sample surfaces with high depth of field and lateral resolutions of upwards of 1-20nm, as well as providing physical and chemical state information about the sample.  

The nmRC is home to 8 SEMs and an Electron Microprobe and can therefore offer a diverse range of SEM analytical variants and approaches. Some of the most prominent being:

  • Focussed Ion Beam (FIB) SEM uses a focused ion beam for materials processing and sample preparation (deposition, ablation, sectioning etc.) or at low beam currents imaging in its own right.
  • Environmental SEM (ESEM) allows for the imaging of poorly conductive ‘uncoated’, or ‘wet’ samples that cannot be imaged in the high vacuum conditions of a traditional SEM. 
  • Cryo-SEM allows for samples to be rapidly frozen, manipulated and then imaged. This enables preservation of the initial substrate morphology and chemistry of a fully hydrated or liquid specimen.
  • Field Emission Gun (FEG) SEM generates a smaller diameter more powerful electron beam to enable nanostructural imaging an characterisation.

Key Features

  • Secondary Electron Imaging
  • Backscattered Electron Imaging
  • Environmental SEM (ESEM)
  • Field Emission Gun (FEG) SEM
  • Focussed Ion Beam (FIB) SEM
  • Cryogenic (CRYO) SEM
  • Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy (EDS/EDX)
  • Wavelength Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy (WDS/WDX)
  • Mineral Liberation Analysis (MLA)
  • Cathodoluminescence
  • Electron Backscatter Diffraction (EBSD)
  • 'In-situ' stress / strain and heating analysis

nmRC SEM Instrumentation


FEI Quanta200 3D DualBeam FIB/SEM

FEI Quanta 650 ESEM

FEI Quanta 600 Mineral Liberation Analyser (MLA)

JEOL JXA-8200 Electron Microprobe 

Philips (FEI) XL30 SEM 

JEOL 6400 SEM 



For technical specifications click here 


Nanoscale and Microscale Research Centre

Cripps South building
University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 748 6340
email: nmrcenquiries@nottingham.ac.uk