Whenever a research or development is being done on a material, there are always questions about how microscopically it looks alike. Whether we are dealing with metal alloys, fibers, filters, membranes, textile products, polymers or living cells or tissues, the actual microscopical shape and size, is a very valuable information of how the system will behave, where it can help us to answer and resolve key problems, for such systems. Here, is where, our scanning electron microscopes (SEM) and particle size and shape analyzers can be very helpful tools.
On the other hand, metallurgists quite often, need to get further information about the composition of an alloy. This is what is called “Elemental Analysis”. This could be done by a part, added to the SEM (scanning electron microscope), called X-Ray Diffraction. Our SEM facility is also fitted with EDX light element analyzers to detect and quantify elements. Results can be provided as distribution maps as well as area averaged and spot analysis.
The concentration of ions in a wet sample could be readily measured, by an atomic absorption, or conductometry test. On the other hand, if the molecule to be quantified is a non-ion, and in a wet or gas solution, we can use spectrophotometers. Chromatography methods, such as GC, HPLC or SFE-SFC System could separate and measure accurately different components of a solution. We have also a Quadropole Mass Spectrometer LC/MS System, which is non-operative at this moment.
SEM on the other hand, can only easily see a conductive material. For those non-conductive ones, we have to coat them with carbon or gold. For sensitive samples or those that cannot be coated with carbon or gold the experiment can be run in a low vacuum mode.
When we are doing SEM experiments on wet samples, to ensure that the water vapor do not contaminate the SEM tower, we need to get the water out of these samples. The safest and the gentlest way is lyophilization. Our freeze-drying facility is here to dry cells, herbal, animal or human tissues, or even suspensions such as fibers, polymers, liposomes, nanoparticles, microspheres, etc.