Andre Phillion, mechanical engineering professor in the School of Engineering, explains the SEM is a microscope that uses electrons instead of light to produce a detailed high-resolution image with considerable depth of field. The SEM, which costs about $500,000, has many applications for a variety of disciplines, including forensics, agriculture, forestry, mineral exploration, biofuel development, manufacturing and much more.
“An SEM is one of the most versatile instrument for the study of solid materials — you can resolve features in an object that are as small as four nanometers,” says Phillion. “It is an essential research tool that enables students and faculty from multiple disciplines to examine a sample and then understand the composition, texture and functionality of the object they are working with.”
The Charles Fipke Foundation gave $500,000 to cover the cost of the SEM, located in the Fipke Centre for Innovative Research, and Western Economic Diversification (WED) Canada contributed $1.35 million to support its operational requirements, as well as build the MEMS fabrication facilities.