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Dipartimento di Fisica e Scienze della Terra


Scanning Electron Microscopy and Microanalysis Laboratory


Scientific manager: Dr. Emma Salvioli Mariani

Technical manager: Luca Barchi




  • Scanning Electron Microscope JEOL 6400, operating under high vacuum conditions (10-4 Pa) and up to 300.000 magnifications
  • Energy Dispersive X-Ray Microanalysis System (EDS) Oxford-INCA, with Si(Li) window-less detector and a friendly softwar
  • Vacuum evaporator JEOL JEE-4X for specimen preparation


Secondary electron images: the acquisition of secondary electron signal allows to obtain morphological information on the sample. The signal of secondary electron is collected by a scintillation detector


Backscattered electron images: the signal of backscattered electron is collected by a pair semiconductor detector to obtain topographic and compositional information. The compositional image shows the atomic number contrast of the specimen (as shown in the picture below)



X-Ray detection by Si(Li) window-less detector. It is possible to have the following informations:

  • Qualitative analyses on different types of sampleS
  • Standardless semi-quantitative anlyses
  • Quantitative analyses after acquisition of international standard samples, consisting of  pure elements, simple oxides or simple silicate compositions
  • X-Ray maps to investigate element distribution on the investigated sample surface
  • Analyses of element distribution along a line profile (linescan)
  • The software allows to perform chemical analysis on the scanned image or on an image scanned by the microscope, and take pictures in various formats.



              X-Ray spectrum on serpentine                                                                                               


secondary image and X-Ray maps of glass coating of pottery shard


                        Si                                                                             Al                                                                 Pb





  • Identification of minerals

  • Identification and chemical composition of rock-forming minerals after preparation of rock polished sections with thickness of about 60 mm          



  • Chemical analyses of the glass portion of silicate melt inclusions and of the mineral phases included in the melt inclusions





  • Chemical analyses of salt in fluid inclusions after opening of the inclusions (in the picture below the numbers indicate: 1 halite, 2 sylvite, 3 K-Ca-sulphate, 4 phosphate)





  • Identification of microfossils
  • Morphological features of scales, teeth, otoliths of sharks
  • Identification and features of pollen


  • Features and chemical analyses of stone materials and pottery sherds
  • Features and chemical analyses of plasters and mortars
  • Chemical analyses of pigments in paintings that allow us to give a date of the work and the various interventions over time



Glass morphology in a pottery sherd                                 Coating of a ceramic vessel      



Section of plaster      



  • Surface analyses of stone materials
  • Analysis of mortars to characterize the type of mortar used in various variety of building works



  • Analyses of various type of materials: glasses, protective films of stone materials, protective films of plastic materials, prepared for dental compounds, diamond blades, paint additives



  • Surface and X-Ray maps of leaves and trunk sections to study the absorption of pollutants by plants



  • Study of abnormalities in steel processes or metal treatments 


Powdered metals ready to be die-cast



  • Photographs of active ingredients and excipients
  • Characterization of generic medications
  • Study of bacterial colonies, venous catheters, nails and bones joints



Prototypes of equipment on organic tissues



Customized courses are provided to the structured staff to make users independent. The technical manager is always available for assistance and to solve operational anomalies of various types.


Several companies operating in different sectors (food, pharmaceutical, chemical) can access the instrumentation for quality control, for the development of new products or new production lines.

We can provide analysis for single or continuous periods, always assisted by the presence of one of our technician, using a specific price list.