School of GeoSciences

SEM Facility equipment and virtual tour

Find technical information including instrument specification and support equipment available. There is also a 360 virtual tour.

The SEM facility has a Carl Zeiss SIGMA HD VP Field Emission SEM with Oxford AZtec ED X-ray analysis and Electron Backscatter Diffraction (EBSD) systems.

You can also see the facility via our 360 virtual view below.


Carl Zeiss SIGMA HD VP Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscope 

Electron Source: Schottky thermal field emitter
Accelerating voltage range: 0.02 to 30 kV
Current range: 12 pA to 100 nA
Secondary Electron imaging: the SIGMA has In-lens, Everhart-Thornley and Variable pressure Secondary electron detectors for the imaging of micro and nano surface features of a wide variety of samples.
Resolution: 1.9nm at 1 kV, 1nm at 15 kV.
Backscatter Electron imaging: 4 quadrant solid state angle selective backscatter (AsB) detector for imaging compositional variation within samples.
Cathodoluminescence: a Deben Centaurus sensitive CL detector with a wide range (185nm to 850nm) scintillator for imaging luminescent materials.
Sample chamber: Large sample chamber that can accommodate specimens up to 250 mm diameter and 45 mm tall.
Variable pressure range: 2-133 Pa, allowing the analysis and imaging of insulators, hydrated samples or uncoated specimens without charging artefacts.
Stage: 130*130mm eucentric stage with motorised control of X, Y, Z, rotate and tilt (-3° to 70°).
Images: All images may be stored using a high resolution digital frame store. Maximum image size: 12288 x 9216 pixels
Operating System: All microscope and analysis systems are operated via Windows 7

The Oxford AZtecEnergy Energy dispersive X-ray analysis system

This system enables qualitative and quantitative analysis of samples and the rapid acquisition of element and phase maps. The 80mm² silicon-drift energy dispersive X-ray detector can detect elements Beryllium (Be) to Californium (Cf).​​

The Oxford AZtecHKL EBSD system

This system enables the determination of crystallographic orientation data of suitably prepared samples with high spatial resolution. EBSD analysis can also be combined with simultaneous ED analysis.

Oxford Instruments Electron Backscatter Diffraction website

Support equipment

The facility also has the necessary support equipment:

  • Sample preparation including impregnation, cutting, grinding and polishing equipment
  • Carbon and gold coating
  • Reflected and transmitted light microscopes with photographic facilities for specimen documentation
  • Optical cathodoluminescence microscope
  • Access to the Electron Microprobe Facility for quantitative major and minor element (0.01 wt%) analysis using either energy dispersive analysis or wavelength dispersive analysis
  • Access to the Ion Microprobe Facility for isotopic and trace element (ppm) analysis


Electron Probe Microanalysis (EPMA) Facility

NERC Ion Micro-Probe (SIMS) Facility 

360 view of the SEM facility