Specimen Preparation

There are two basic types of SEM’s. The regular SEM, which we have in the Iowa State Materials Science Department, requires a conductive sample. An environmental SEM can be used to examine a non-conductive sample without coating it with a conductive material. Three requirements for preparing samples for a regular SEM such as in the Iowa State Materials Science Department are:


  1. Remove all water, solvents, or other materials that could vaporize while in the vacuum.
  2. Firmly mount all the samples.

3) Non-metallic samples, such as bugs, plants, fingernails, and ceramics, should be coated so they are electrically conductive. Metallic samples can be placed directly into the SEM.