Failure analysis is of utmost importance in many industrial applications, such as semiconductor, packaging, transportation, manufacturing and biomedical devices. Knowing how and why a material failed is essential to ensuring a product’s reliability, to identifying the root cause of failure and to implementing ways to alleviating and/or preventing parts from failure, and to paving the way of improving performance of materials and designs. A dependable design against failure requires thorough understanding on the failure mechanisms and knowledge in structural engineering, mechanical engineering, and materials science and engineering. There are many ways and steps to conducting failure analysis. Among them Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) is one of the most powerful tools in failure analysis. By revealing the information about the microstructure at the fracture surface, one can derive lots of information about the failure mechanisms.

Typical Experimental Results:

SEM image of fractured steel wire showing the typical three stages of fatigue failure as marked with arrows

Micrograph image of corroded penny with characteristics of severe metal corrosion: uneven, porous and powdery microstructure, and cracks on the surface caused by corrosion stresses


Alloys and Metals Ceramics Chemical Etching Cleaning Problems Contamination and Stain Investigation
Corrosion Analysis Cross-section Analysis Foreign Material Identification Forensic Analysis Fractography
Fracture Characterization Glasses Grains and Grain Boundaries IC Failure Analysis Medical Devices
Metallographic Analysis Nano Materials Plastic Deformation Plastics and Polymers Scratch and Scuffing
Thin Films and Coatings Tribological Surfaces Wear Mechanisms Wear Surfaces Welds

For more information please read our application notes.

Instruments: JEOL 6610 LV Scanning Electron Microscope


Key Specifications:

W hairpin filament
High Vacuum: 3nm (30kV),
8nm (3kV), 15nm (1kV)
Low Vacuum: 4 nm (30kV)
Accelerating Voltage
300 V to 30 kV
5x to 300,000x
LV Detector
Multi-segment BSED
LV Pressure
10 to 270 Pa
Sample Sizes
Height: 80mm; Width: 178 mm
Eucentric 5 axis motor control, asynchronous movement, x-y: 125mm-110mm, z: 5mm-8mm, tilt:-10 to 90 degrees, rotation: 360 degrees
5120 x 3840 pixels
Condenser Lens
Zoom condenser lens
Objective Lens
Conical objective lens


Other Techniques and Instruments for Failure Analysis

Chemical Analysis: Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectrometer

Liquids: Density Meter, Dynamic Surface Tensiometer, Refractive Index Meter, Surface Tensiometer, Viscometer

Mechanical: Microscratch Tester, Micro Vickers Hardness Tester, Nanoindenter, Tribometer

Metallurgy: Micro Vickers Hardness Tester, Optical Microscope

Particle Identification and Sizing: Particle Size Analyzer, Particle Zeta Potential Analyzer, Centrifuge

Surface Contamination: Contact Angle Meter

Surface Topography: Optical Microscope, SPM

Thermal Analysis: DSC, DMA, STA, TGA, TMA

Tribological: Microscratch Tester, Nanoindenter, Tribometer