Scanning electron microscopy SEM

Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) supports the imaging of surfaces, cracks or cross-section polishes with a high resolution (~ 2-5 nm) and great depth of field. It is a versatile tool making it possible to pass through the magnification range of 20 to 200,000x within seconds, switch quickly from one sample to the next and to also image non-conductive surfaces by means of sputtering. In combination with X-ray spectroscopy EDX, it is the ideal tool for defect analysis since it combines microscopic visualisation with chemical point analysis. On cracks or cross-section polishes, it can be used for precise film thickness determination in the nanometre to millimetre range. Various detectors (Inlens, SE, BSE) can be used to highlight different contrasts, for example the element or topography contrast.

REM cross-section polish through a wear protection multilayer

Cross-section polish of a TiN/TiAlN multilayer with an ingrown defect.
© Fraunhofer IST

Cross-section polish of a TiN/TiAlN multilayer with an ingrown defect. The contrast between the layers is achieved through the different mean atomic numbers of the TiN layers (light) and the TiAlN layers (darker). The WC hard metal substrate appears especially light.

REM breaking edge DLC film

REM breaking edge DLC film. DLC film with various intermediate layers.
© Fraunhofer IST

DLC film with various intermediate layers. The intermediate layers exhibit highly defined column growth structures while the DLC film is amorphous and unstructured.