For decades, industries such as materials science, forensics and environmental science have used scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy dispersive spectroscopy (SEM/EDS) as a routine analytical method. The development of automated particle analysis quickly expanded this method’s application, laying the foundation for fast, efficient analysis of microscopic particulate. Today’s automated SEM/EDS systems are routinely used for forensic gunshot residue analysis, environmental particulate characterization, wear debris testing, particle sizing and identification of raw materials in industrial and pharmaceutical products, inclusion testing, etc.
Gateway Analytical recently acquired the newest generation ASPEX PSEM Explorer to offer state-of-the-art SEM/EDS analysis. To ensure that this system complies with stringent ISO and cGMP guidelines, the company combined validated instrumentation with a documented laboratory quality system. Here’s an overview of how it’s applied to each of the industries that Gateway Analytical serves. Story’s in third person:
The PSEM Explorer system is utilized for routine forensic testing methodologies, including manual analysis of particulate, defects, failure testing, metal analysis, paint, glass and tapes. Automated SEM/EDS analysis is implemented for samples such as gunshot residue and soils.
In addition, the ability to provide chemical information in conjunction with high resolution image analysis is critical in the analysis of forensic samples. For example, in paint examination: knowing the layer structure, layer size, mineral and pigment content are important to the evaluation of the evidence. This method provides a fast, efficient and high quality method for understanding these materials.
The PSEM Explorer system is also an important tool used in the evaluation of materials. Gateway Analytical’s expert scientists rely on this method to characterize a variety of materials to determine chemical composition and morphology. Sample types range from metal alloys to contaminants to raw materials utilized in the manufacturing process. This technique is critical in evaluating samples such as lead paint and building materials as well.
The PSEM Explorer plays an important role in pharmaceutical forensic investigations. The science of applying forensic problem methodologies and analytical testing methods, pharmaceutical forensics is well suited for a host of complex issues, including non-conformance, counterfeiting, particle contamination, source determination and out of specification investigations of products and processes.
SEM/EDS analysis provides a critical piece of the puzzle to problems ranging from unknown stains of filter material to particulate contamination to the investigation of the particle size distribution of raw materials.
Although vital to the characterization of materials, the PSEM Explorer cannot solve the most difficult problems alone. When state-of-the-art techniques are combined with expert interpretation and other analytical methodologies in a scientific problem solving scheme, the solutions to some of the most challenging scientific problems are easier to overcome.