Desktop SEM (Scanning Electron Microscopes)

The COXEM Series of compact Desktop SEM offer a wide range of capabilities to address the needs of scientific research and microscopic examination. COXEM is the only Desktop SEM supplier offering both Tungsten and CeB6 (Cerium Hexaboride) electron sources allowing us to recommend the best solution for your requirements.

Benchtop SEM EM-30 Plus




High Resolution Desktop SEM with either Tungsten or CeB6 electron source and standard motorized 3-Axis XYT stage.

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Benchtop SEM EM-30AX Plus

The EM-30 series SEM expanded to include an integrated EDS Micro-Analysis system from Bruker or Oxford Instruments.

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Full-Size Systems
COXEM CX-200plus full-size SEM

Accessories for Desktop SEM

STEM Detector for Benchtop SEM

STEM Detector

STEM Module with dedicated imaging detector and TEM grid holder for 4 grids with EDS compatibility

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Cold Stage and Critical Point Dryers (CPD) for Benchtop SEM

Cold Stage

Cold Stage sample platform for the EM-30 improves imaging of moist or biological samples, -25°C to 50°C temperature range

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Anti-Vibration Supports for Benchtop SEM

Vibration Isolation Platforms

Vibration Isolation platforms assist high magnification imaging by suppressing ambient vibrations. Multiple models available.

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EDS Micro-Analysis Options for Desktop SEM

Bruker Xflash EDS for Benchtop SEM

Bruker EDS for Desktop SEM

Xflash® 630 EDS for Desktop SEM with 30mm² SDD and Esprit Compact software

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Oxford AZtecOne EDS for Benchtop SEM

Oxford EDS for Desktop SEM

AZtecOne SDD EDS for Desktop SEM with 25mm² detector and Aztec Software

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EDAX Element EDS for Benchtop SEM

EDAX EDS for Desktop SEM

Element SDD EDS for Desktop SEM with 25mm² detector and APEX™ Software

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Sample Preparation Tools for SEM

Sputter Coaters for Desktop SEM

Sputter / Carbon Coater

Sputter and Carbon Coaters with Tilt-Rotate for Non-Conductive specimens in Scanning Electron Microscopes

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Cross Section Polisher for SEM sample preparation

Cross Section Polisher

NEW CP-8000 Cross Section Polisher utilizing an Argon Ion Mill prepares samples for critical cross section analysis

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Cold Stage and Critical Point Dryers (CPD) for Benchtop SEM

Critical Point Dryer

Critical Point Dryers for improved imaging of moist samples

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Software for Desktop SEM

MountainsMap SEM by DigitalSurf

MountainsMap by DigitalSurf

Create 3D surface maps, colorized images, image stitching and more

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MIPAR Image Analysis software

MIPAR Image Analysis

MIPAR Image Analysis software for statistical feature analysis of Particles, Pores, Fibers and more

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MIPAR Image Analysis software

ImagePro Image Analysis

ImagePro Image Analysis software for statistical feature analysis of Particles, Pores, FIBERS and more

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MIPAR Image Analysis software

Quartz PCI CFR

Add 21 CFR Part 11 compliance to your SEM workflow

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Why Desktop SEM?

Since their re-introduction to the microscopy market around 2005, Desktop SEM’s or Tabletop SEM’s as they have come to be known, are now widely considered a highly useful microscopic analytical tool.  They are utilized by many research and quality assurance laboratories.  Companies and research groups that previously never thought to acquire an SEM due to the cost, infrastructure and specially trained personnel required to operate them, are now finding Desktop SEM systems to be a cost effective solution capable of providing the imaging, morphological and elemental analysis capabilities they require while simultaneously being very easy to use by multiple members of their technical staff.

In fact, these Desktop SEM’s have even found their way into many STEM outreach programs around the country for the valuable educational awareness they offer.  Being easy to use, even middle school children with supervision are now operating electron microscopes in science programs across the country thanks to the admirable efforts of electron microscope suppliers.

Buyers of Scanning Electron Microscopes are faced with many decisions regarding microscope capabilities as they relate to the eventual cost of the system.  Beyond the initial acquisition cost depending on the type of microscope, there may also be significant on-going costs for maintenance, service costs for the tool, the cost of facilities and even specially trained operation personnel.

Entry Level Tabletop BSE only XY Only under 60,000X $50K to $60K
Intermediate Tabletop BSE XY Only 100,000X $60K to $70K
High End Tabletop BSE and SE XYT or more 150,000X $70K to $80K
Tabletop with EDS BSE, SE and EDS XYT or more 150,000X $100K to $125K
Entry Level Floor Model BSE and SE XYZRT 300,000X $95K to $120K
Entry Floor Model + EDS BSE, SE and EDS XYZRT 300,000X $130K to $160K

The original Desktop SEM’s introduced around 2005 like the Hitachi TM-1000 or the original FEI Phenom G1 were not viewed with much respect by experienced electron microscopists due to their limited capabilities.  Today, current Desktop SEM offerings have closed this gap with higher beam energies and resolutions approaching those of full-size tungsten filament systems.

The gap between capabilities of these compact, personal Desktop SEM’s and full-size SEM systems has grown much smaller.  For example, our EM-30 Series with its 5nm resolution, variable apertures, motorized X-Y-Tilt stage, 30kV beam energy and full-featured EDS has practically equivalent capabilities to several full-size SEM’s, especially older model systems that are becoming obsolete or are not supported such as Amray, Cambridge, ISI, Topcon, Leo, Philips/FEI – as well as older models from Hitachi and JEOL.

It is generally accepted that around 80-90% of scanning electron microscopy imaging work is done at magnifications less than 10,000X.  This is easily within the range of any SEM on the market today.  All of these systems are practical for many industrial quality analysis and many research efforts with each system possessing their own unique capabilities. The challenge facing you the buyer, is determining which system best suits your needs for the sample types and method of utilization you will undertake.  We recommend you request our article “10 Points to Consider when Buying an SEM” that you can locate from this BLOG POST.

Likewise, when high magnification is necessary, the buyer must be cautious regarding the marketing claims as pertains to the SEM’s ability to see nano-sized features of samples. The sample itself and how it can be prepared are often the limiting factor in what ultimate magnification is possible regardless of the microscope.  The SEM resolution, spot size and scanned image capture size will most often be a more important specification to compare as these play a direct role in what effective magnification is possible.  The prospective buyer is encouraged to witness the magnification of “live” images as well as “captured” images as the resolution and size of display monitors factor into the true capabilities.  Some Desktop SEM’s are marketed with a magnification claim that does not equate to a resolution necessary to achieve such a magnification.  Pay close attention to this combination of resolution and magnification. All SEM systems reach a level of “hollow” magnification where further detail present in a sample cannot be observed due to the limitation of the microscope’s resolution.  Resolution of the microscope and its ability to provide imaging showing detail at the smallest scale is usually much more important than ultimate magnification.

Desktop SEM systems (scanning electron microscopes) are commonly used for microscopic analysis of a wide variety of biological, inorganic and man-made materials. All Scanning Electron Microscopes utilize a focused beam of electrons to scan the surface of a sample to collect a 3-dimensional image. Imaging detectors allow surface or topographical analysis (SE – secondary electrons) as well as composition analysis (BSE – backscatter electrons) and elemental chemistry analysis (EDS – energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy).

Unlike conventional, full-size scanning electron microscopes with large chambers, critical vacuum requirements and stringent ambient requirements, a Desktop SEM can easily sit on a desktop or lab bench in a standard lab or industrial environment right beside other analytical instruments with no special requirements.  The only utilities required are standard AC power and a small, quiet roughing vacuum pump.  No special cooling, air conditioning, or foundation is necessary.  When users wish to reach the highest magnifications, a vibration isolation table or support might be advisable due to ambient conditions in some environments.

Applications for SEM include Life Science (Biology, Forensics, Pharmaceuticals, Medical) and Material Science (Semiconductors, Geology, Metallurgy, Nanotechnology). These compact Desktop SEM’s are also used when portability is required to take the analytical tool to the sample and obtain reliable imaging and other analysis on-site.  Many labs using full-size SEM systems and busy core electron microscopy centers, are finding these small Desktop SEM’s very useful for reducing backlog or for pre-checking a sample to locate features of interest prior to using valuable time on much more expensive systems.

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