Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and Energy Dispersive X-ray (EDX) microanalysis

The Geo Laboratory at the Natural History Museum (NHM-UiO) is equipped with a Hitachi S–3600N Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), installed in 2004, which is suitable for high-resolution imaging of geological materials (minerals, microfossils) and semi-quantitative X-ray microanalysis of both conductive and non-conductive specimens. 

The Hitachi S–3600N SEM can be operated in two modes:

  • High-vacuum (HV) mode (< 1 Pa). Used for high-resolution imaging and semi-quantitative X-ray microanalysis of conductive samples or coated samples. 
  • Variable pressure (VP) mode (10–200 Pa). This allows observation of non-conductive samples in their natural state or in a wet condition, without the need for coating. 

Instrument Features

  • High-resolution secondary (SE) and backscattered (BSE) electron detectors.
  • Bruker XFlash® 5030 energy dispersive X-ray detector (EDX), running on Quantax 400 (Esprit 1.9), for semi-quantitative elemental analysis and hyperspectral mapping, with <127 eV FWHM at MnKα energy resolution. 
  • Large chamber accommodating samples up to 150 mm in diameter and ~50 mm in height.
  • A 5-axis motorized stage with eucentric tilt (0 – 52°, depending on sample size) and 360° rotation.

Examples of images


Sample Preparation Equipment

Electrically insulating samples may be coated with a thin layer of conducting material to prevent charging effects. The choice of material depends on the data to be acquired; carbon is most desirable for elemental analysis, while metal coatings are most effective for high-resolution imaging.

  • Agar Auto Carbon Coater
  • Jeol Fine Coat Ion Sputter JFC-1100, with a PtPd metal alloy target


The SEM is available for rent with or without an operator. Prices are in NOK excl. VAT. These fees are subject to change at the discretion of the lab.

User Price/hour

Internal (UiO) *


External without operator


External with operator


* UiO Master students have access to the instrument free of charges.


Tags: SEM, BSE, EDX, EDS, variable pressure, mineralogy, paleontology, microanalyses
Published Feb. 12, 2019 9:15 AM - Last modified Sep. 25, 2019 11:16 AM