Editorial Feature

Table Top SEM Models

Traditional scanning electron microscopes (SEMs) scan a selected area over the surface of a sample by utilizing a focused beam of high-energy electrons to generate signals onto the surface of the specimen of interest1. These signals reflect important sample details such as its texture, chemical composition and crystalline structure.

As one of the most important instruments used in the characterization of solid materials, such SEMs are capable of magnifying within the range of 20X - 30,000X, while maintaining a relatively user-friendly operative design. Despite these strengths, traditional SEMs are often very large devices that are expensive to buy and maintain, as they also often require extremely stable and high voltages to supply their energy.

To combat such challenges associated with older SEMs, tabletop/desktop SEMs are much smaller systems that are easy to use, portable and much less expensive as compared to their predecessors. The use of tabletop SEMs is associated with a minimal space requirement while simultaneously providing high quality images of samples. Despite their reduced size, the resolution obtained by the use of tabletop SEMs is comparable to that of conventional devices. Known for their ability to provide a reliable analysis for a wide range of samples, some industrial applications that utilize tabletop SEMs include forensic science, pharmaceuticals, nanotechnology, life sciences and material sciences2.

Phenom-World

Located in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, Phenom-World is a leading supplier of SEMs and imaging and analysis packages around the world. Their tabletop SEM products include:

  • Phenom ProX: By creating three-dimensional images of microscopic structures that are present within analyzed specimens, the Phenom ProX combines both imaging and X-ray analytical systems to determine the elemental composition of samples while simultaneously understanding its topological features. Particularly useful for researchers utilizing nanoparticles in their projects, as well as in toxicological studies, the element Identification (EID) software associated with the Phenom ProX allows its users to identify and map the functionality and presence of all elements within a given sample. Some other important specifications of this device include:
    • Light Optical Magnification: fixed 20x
    • Electron Optical Magnification: 70-30,000x
    • Black and white light camera
    • 5 kV acceleration voltages
    • Sample Size: up to 32 mm
    • Sample Height: up to 100 mm3
  • Phenom Pro: As one of the most advanced SEM models offered by Phenom-World, the electron source of the Phenom Pro is a high-brightness CeB6 that exhibits an impressively long lifetime for the SEM. By utilizing a backscattered detector (BSD) and detection chain to eliminate the noise interactions with the produced images, the Phenom Pro creates detailed images with a resolution less than or equal to 10 nm. Some other important specifications of this device include:
    • Light Optical Magnification: 20-135x
    • Electron Optical Magnification: 80-130,000x
    • Color light camera
    • 5 kV and 10 kV acceleration voltages, which are adjustable between 4, 8 and 10 kV
    • BSD and Energy Dispersal X-ray Spectroscopy (EDS) Detectors
    • Sample Size: up to 32 mm
    • Sample Height: up to 100 mm4
  • Phenom XL: With some of the fastest time-to-image rates of any Phenom-World device, the Phenom XL SEM is capable of analyzing some of the largest sample sizes as compared to most tabletop SEMs currently available on the market today. By providing users with an exceptional ease-of-use, the Phenom XL contains a compact motorized stage that allows users to scan the full area of a sample at an impressive resolution that measures at less than or equal to 14 nm. Some other important specifications of this device include:
    • Light Optical Magnification: 3-16x
    • Electron Optical Magnification: 80-100,000x
    • Color light camera
    • 5 kV and 10 kV acceleration voltages, which are adjustable between 4, 8 and 10 kV
    • BSD and EDS and SED Detectors
    • Sample Size: 100 mm x 100 mm
    • Sample Height: up to 65 mm5
  • Phenom Pure: By perfectly combining light microscopy technologies with SEM technology, the Phenom Pure provides high-quality images that display a specimen’s basic features at some of the fastest loading and imaging times as compared to any other product currently on the market. Some other important specifications of this device include:
    • Light Optical Magnification: fixed 20x
    • Electron Optical Magnification: 70-30,000x
    • Black and white light camera
    • 5 kV acceleration voltages
    • Sample Size: 32 mm
    • Sample Height: up to 100 mm6
  • Phenom GSR: Within the field of forensic sciences, gunshot residue (GSR) is an important determining factor that not only provides important information on the suspect, but can also be used to identify the firearm used in a crime. While current GSR analysis techniques are based on traditional SEM devices, the Phenom GSR is the world’s first automated GSR analytical device that measures GSR through innovative software at a rapid analysis speed7

NanoImages: As a major distributor of tabletop SEMs and industrial X-ray inspection systems, NanoImages, LLC mainly offers products for researchers working in the United States and Canada. By offering competitive tabletop SEM systems with advanced features, NanoImages offers its users robust designs that maintain the SEMs at a low cost, simple ease-of-use, and minimal service requirement8. Their tabletop SEM products include:

  • SNE-3200M Tabletop SEM: At its resolution of 15 nm, this mid-range tabletop SEM is a versatile system that utilizes both secondary electron (SE) and BSE imaging detectors. Containing 3-axis stage controls, the SNE-3200M allows its users to easily adjust the position of its samples at a magnification ranging from 20-60,000x9.
  • SNE-4500M Tabletop SEM: With an exceptional resolution of 5 nm that is greater than any other SEM available today, this fully featured tabletop SEM is equipped with a 5-axis stage control. Completely unique in its design, the SNE-4500M utilizes both SE and BSE dual detectors at a magnification ranging from 20-100,000x10.

Both the SNE-3200M and SNE-4500M Tabletop SEMs by NanoImages offer a unique software capable of allowing users to view and save either SE, BSE or composite images that combine both the SE and BSE images to allow for an increasingly detailed image that provides topographical and composition information of a given specimen in a single image.  

Hitachi

Distributed by Angstrom Scientific, Hitachi began its production of tabletop electron microscopes in 2005, and has since continued to offer innovative designs for both tabletop and traditional SEM systems11. With over 3,000 Hitachi systems currently being used around the world, Hitachi Tabletop SEMs are some of the most popular and advanced systems in its class. Their tabletop SEM products include:

  • TM3030/TM3030Plus: By completely eliminating the need to pre-process samples, even those that contain water and are non-conductive, this compact system is equipped with BSD and SE detectors that enable this system to achieve high quality imaging under a low vacuum. Some of the advantages associated with using a tabletop SEM under low vacuum include the complete elimination of sputter coating, as well as the ability to analyze water-containing samples. Some other important specifications of this device include:
    • Magnification Range: 15-60,000x
    • Detection Area: 30 mm2
    • Multiple element analysis12

JEOL USA Inc.

As a subsidiary of Japanese JEOL Ltd., this American branch has continued to advance scientific research instruments and technologies since 1962.

  • JCM-6000PLUS NeoScope Benchtop SEM: With touch screen operation and an outstanding performance speed of 3 minutes, the Neoscope benchtop SEM offers both SE, BSE and EDS detectors at a magnification of up to 60,000x. Some other important specifications of this device include:
    • 70 mm diameter sample coverage
    • Three selectable accelerating voltages13

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References

  1. “What is Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)” – Carleton University
  2. “Desktop SEM/Portable Scanning Electron Microscope (Tabletop SEM)” – Lab Compare
  3. “Phenom ProX” – PhenomWorld
  4. “Phenom Pro” – PhenomWorld
  5. “Phenom XL” – PhenomWorld
  6. “Phenom Pure” – PhenomWorld
  7. “Phenom GSR” – PhenomWorld
  8. “About Us” – NanoImages
  9. “SNE-3200M Tabletop SEM” – NanoImages
  10. “SNE-4500M Tabletop SEM” – NanoImages
  11. “Companies” – Angstrom Scientific, Inc.
  12. “What is the TM3030” – Hitachi
  13. “JCM-6000PLUS NeoSCope Benchtop SEM” – JEOL

​Image credit:

Shutterstock.com/SvitlanaBoyko

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Benedette Cuffari

Written by

Benedette Cuffari

After completing her Bachelor of Science in Toxicology with two minors in Spanish and Chemistry in 2016, Benedette continued her studies to complete her Master of Science in Toxicology in May of 2018. During graduate school, Benedette investigated the dermatotoxicity of mechlorethamine and bendamustine, which are two nitrogen mustard alkylating agents that are currently used in anticancer therapy.

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