ASTM E384 Knoop Microhardness

EDS or EDX is a method of identifying the major inorganic elements in microscopic samples.

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Purpose: Identify the major inorganic elements in a material.

Sample: One solid sample.

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Basic Description: This instrument is one of the detectors on our scanning electron microscope (SEM). The sample is placed under vacuum and excited to a higher energy state with an electron beam. As each element falls back down to its original energy state it emits X-ray energy at different wavelengths for each element. Identification of the elements is done by matching the peak locations (on the x-axis) with known wavelengths for each element. EDS analysis is very good at determining what elements are present in samples which are as small as one micrometer (40 micro-inches). Results are plotted with X-ray wavelength on the X-axis and intensity on the Y-axis with each peak labeled with its corresponding element.

Limitations: Analysis is normally not quantitative but semi-quantitative results can be provided for some materials. Detection limits are typically 1% or higher so trace elements will not be detected. Identifies which elements are present but not how they are connected so it cannot tell the difference between minerals of similar composition but different crystal structure. FTIR analysis (ASTM E1252) is required to differentiate between most organic molecules. Some elements are hard to tell apart since they have overlapping peak locations. Sample must be non-volatile so that it will not be evaporated within the vacuum in the test chamber. EDS analysis is unable to detect elements with molecular weights below that of carbon.


  • JEOL, Model JSM 6360LV, Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM)
  • Thermo Electron, System Six 300, Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS)


  • EDS Analysis
  • EDX Analysis
  • Elemental Identification

Related Techniques: