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STEM-in-SEM method for morphology analysis of polymer systems

Authors
Journal
Polymer
0032-3861
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
52
Issue
5
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.polymer.2011.01.030
Keywords
  • Stem-In-Sem
  • Tem
  • Microscopy
Disciplines
  • Design
  • Engineering

Abstract

Abstract Applicability of STEM-in-SEM for polymer characterization, particularly for a manufacturing environment, was explored through analysis of a wide range of commercially significant polymer systems. STEM-in-SEM studies of engineering thermoplastic blends and composites, using samples prepared for TEM studies, showed excellent comparison to TEM micrographs. Important structural details of multi-phase polymer systems could be easily obtained, even when using a thermionic SEM. High quality images were obtained from STEM-in-SEM, and enabled the study of commonly monitored features such as overall morphology, identification of component phases, assessment of compatibility between discrete and continuous phases, and the dispersion and distribution of the discrete components. STEM-in-SEM proved to have additional advantages for polymer systems with low contrast between phases, or beam-sensitive samples, which are highly challenging for TEM imaging. Combining the large field of view with the high magnification range in an SEM, it was also possible to successfully study large-scale phenomena, such as crack propagation. High flexibility of STEM-in-SEM over TEM for design changes is also demonstrated to allow for handling of a large number of samples and a lower turnaround time per sample. An increase in productivity by about 50% was obtained for STEM-in-SEM with a 12-sample carousel vs. a conventional single-sample STEM-in-SEM or TEM.

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