Combined SEM and EDS with Thermo ColourSEM

ColourSEM technology from Thermo Scientific combines SEM and EDS for easy-to-interpret elemental information, displayed live in colour on your SEM images. It’s fully integrated and always on, highlighting features on your sample that may otherwise be unnoticed.

Blue Scientific is the official industrial distributor for the Thermo Scientific Axia ChemiSEM in the UK and Ireland. For more information or quotes, please get in touch.

Thermo Scientific Axia ChemiSEM

ColourSEM brochure PDF

 Contact us on +44 (0)1223 422 269 or


Energy-Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (also known as EDS and EDX analysis) is a powerful technique for investigating micro-scale chemical composition.

When combined with Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), EDS extracts compositional information from X-rays that are emitted when the electron beam scans the sample. It can detect almost all elements on the periodic table. EDS data can be used in a wide range of applications, including process/quality control, failure analysis and fundamental research.

Construction Materials (SEM)
ColourSEM is much easier and quicker to interpret than greyscale images, such as in these construction materials.

Thermo Scientific ColourSEM

Thermo Scientific ColourSEM Technology provides elemental information quickly and easily. Elemental information is displayed in colour directly on the live image. It’s seamless and fully integrated into the user interface of the SEM.

Quantification is performed live; it’s always on so you always have access to complete information about your sample. It’s displayed visually in colour in a way that’s quick and easy to interpret. As well as being fast, this also highlights features that may otherwise remain unnoticed.

Colour SEM makes it much easier to see the distribution of nickel, copper and zinc particles (50 micron magnification).

Advantages of ColourSEM

  • Comprehensive information – View micro-scale elemental composition in colour, making it easier to spot defects, imperfections and features you might not see otherwise.
  • Always on – You don’t have to switch between SEM imaging to EDS analysis. Colour imaging and elemental analysis are fully integrated.
  • Quick screening – ColourSEM is seamless, providing instant information in a single interface for fast composition screening.
  • Accessible – It’s easy to use, with immediate results in colour that are easy to understand. This is ideal for multi-user labs, enabling more scientists and engineers to acquire the information they need.
Colour SEM Example
Traditional mapping (top) compared with live ColourSEM (bottom) on a CuNiZn reaction precursor.


ColourSEM can be useful in a variety of applications and this list isn’t exhaustive. If your area of interest isn’t mentioned, please get in touch.

  • Process and quality control
  • Batteries
  • Failure analysis
  • Construction materials
  • Polymers
  • Metals
  • Forensics
  • Oil and gas
  • Geology
  • Automative materials testing
  • Fibres and filters

Example: Lithium Ion Battery Anode

The example below shows how to identify composition automatically and how to select elements of interest. (Sound on for commentary).

Example: Copper Nickel Zinc

In this next example, a copper nickel zinc sample has minimal backscatter contrast. In this case, ColourSEM can be used to highlight contrast that would otherwise go unnoticed. Live results are displayed within the SEM user interface, with no need to switch to another software package. The video shows several forms of elemental information (point and area). Sound on for commentary:

Example: X-Ray Peak Overlap

This example demonstrates how to deal with X-ray peak overlap and deconvolution, making sure elemental information is correct and reliable, even in live colour imaging.

Recorded Webinar

Thermo Scientific’s webinar presents an overview of ColourSEM, and how it makes it easier to distinguish features compared to greyscale SEM, revealing sample information that might not otherwise be visible. See how it saves time and enables elemental information to be accessed instantly.

Watch the webinar on-demand on Thermo Scientific’s website:

Thermo Scientific Axia ChemiSEM

Axia ChemiSEM

ColourSEM is available on the Thermo Scientific Axia ChemiSEM:

  • Continuous EDS for quantitative elemental information at any time.
  • Automated features for convenience.
  • Designed to make SEM easier to use.
  • Acquire data quickly and seamlessly.
  • Large, flexible chamber.

More Information

Blue Scientific is the official distributor of the Thermo Scientific Axia ChemiSEM in the UK and Ireland. We’re available to provide quotes and answer all your questions – just get in touch:

 Contact us on +44 (0)1223 422 269 or

ColourSEM brochure PDF

Thermo Scientific Axia ChemiSEM

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About the Author

Tom Warwick has extensive experience of nanometer-scale, metrology and industrial laboratory instrumentation, with a background in nanotechnology and nanofabrication.