The Phenom Delivering Crisp, Clear Images at Magnifications Up to 20,000X - Application Note by Phenom-World

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Phenom Rapidly Accepted in Many Applications


The Phenom is a new tabletop scanning electron microscope (SEM) which combines the high magnification of electron microscopy with the ease of use of optical microscopy to improve performance in a tabletop instrument.

The Phenom, a tabletop SEM provides useful magnifications up to 20,000x, is easy to use as the typical laboratory-grade optical microscopes. The Phenom cuts away the time, difficulty, and expense of the conventional SEM. The operator simply places the sample in the specially designed holder on the microscope. Due to its unique design there is no risk of damaging the lens. The automatically focused image is displayed in less than 30 seconds later, with the resolution and depth of focus typical belonging to SEMs.

Figure 1. Phenom Desktop SEM


The rapidly accelerating pace of development in micro- and nanotechnologies has created growing demand for imaging capability beyond the 1000X magnification available from a typical light microscope (LM). Scanning electron microscopes (SEM) can generate useable information at magnifications higher than 100,000X, but they are typically slower, harder to use and more expensive than LM. Now, an innovative benchtop imaging system by Phenom, combines the power of SEM with the speed and convenience of LM, delivering crisp, clear images at magnifications up to 24,000X with about as much effort as a point-and-shoot camera.

Figure 2. Gypsum "Rotband" taken at 2038x magnification (Field of view is 98µm).

Phenom Rapidly Accepted in Many Applications

The new instrument has been rapidly accepted in many applications where it can quickly acquire detailed images of almost any sample without complicated preparation procedures. More subtle, but perhaps ultimately much more important, the Phenom transforms the nature of SEM analysis, allowing investigators and technicians to examine and interact with the sample immediately without the delays inherent in evaluating samples in a traditional SEM.

The Phenom departs radically from conventional SEM design in a number of fundamental aspects. Its miniaturized electron column is practically immune to mechanical and acoustical interference, permitting high-resolution imaging with no need for special facilities or environmental isolation. The touch-screen control interface and automated navigation capability permit simple, intuitive operation with little or no training. An innovative vacuum system achieves low-vacuum imaging conditions within seconds, and eliminates most sample constraints and preparation requirements. Finally, and not insignificantly, the system's cost of ownership is a fraction of that of a conventional SEM or outsourcing SEM images.

Figure 3. Dust filter taken at 500x magnification (Field of view is 400µm).

Figure 4. Fractured Aluminum taken at 1500x magnification (Field of view is 133µm).


The development of a practical bench top SEM is in many ways analogous to the introduction of the desk top computer. Specifically, personal SEM analysis of data reduces the time and complications associated with analysis at a centralized location. In many applications, the added value of direct interaction between the user and the sample permitted by a "personal" SEM will likely lead to a rapid proliferation of these instruments.

Figure 5. Carbon fiber automobile panel taken at 2000x magnification (Field of view is 100µm).

Figure 6. Bacteria on a filter taken at 20000x magnification (Field of view is 10µm).

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Phenom-World.

For more information please visit Phenom-World.

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