The scanning electron microscope (SEM) equipped with Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (EDX) detector is a surface analytical technique with extremely high-resolution imaging capability that is used for examining surface morphology, topography, and the microstructure of environmental samples.
The SEM is used for visualizing interaction of soil minerals with microbial inhabitants at micrometer-scale. The focused ion beam (FIB) feature of the SEM-EDX is frequently used for preparation of sample cross sections and imaging of various interfaces (such as microbe and mineral and organic and mineral), giving insights into biogeochemical transformation processes occurring in soils.
The SEM-EDX is used as a quantitative method to obtain chemical composition and reveal spatial distribution of major and minor elements in environmental samples. One important application of FIB-SEM is preparation of site-specific sample cross section for high-resolution Transmission Electron Microscopy or Atomic Probe Tomography analyses. In general, this instrument is applicable to environmental systems where it is critical to understand how interactions at the micro-level influence movement and transformation of nutrients and chemical elements.
- Supporting the Biogeochemical Transformations Integrated Research Platform, these resources examine the interplay between geology, chemistry, and biology in soil ecosystems, which are critical for how nutrients and chemical compounds move and change in the environment.
- Supporting the Structural Biology Integrated Research Platform, these resources examine microbial structure, which gives insights on an organism’s response to environmental stresses.
- Supporting the Rhizosphere Function Integrated Research Platform, these resources aim to probe the complex interactions between plants and the environment, including microbes and soil that lead to specific plant traits. Understanding these interactions can facilitate selecting plant attributes such as drought resistance, etc.
- Helios 600 – Dual Beam
Tips for success
- This instrument provides added capability in SEM imaging with an advanced ability to analyze highly beam sensitive (geo-biological) samples and gel-like materials.
- Variable humid environments and variable pressures can be applied to specimen chambers, making it possible to study hydrated and uncoated specimens in their natural state.