Thought Leaders

Houston Electron Microscopy


In this interview, AZoM talks to Dennis Manuel, CEO of Houston Electron Microscopy Inc., about their history and applications in electron microscopy.

What is your background with electron microscopy? How long have you used EM in your work?

Well, I'm a metallurgical engineer by trade and electron microscopy is a valuable tool for all metallurgists, so that’s how I first encountered the technique. In 2011 I was going to start my early retirement but knowing what I knew about the tool and what everybody needed, I said, well, maybe it's the time to buy our own, do our own thing.

So, we took some 401k money and bought a cheap SEM, a used one for $50,000, about as cheap as you can get them. And struggled for the first few years. Well, really the first five years, because it takes a long time to build up clients in this business.

But in the past three years it's really picked up, mostly due to manufacturing, and our business has tripled. We even ended up buying a new SEM, because we're ready to grow. Now, we're not struggling anymore; we’ve got a good clientele and we're turning that curve.

Ductile cast iron with excessive graphite concentration.

Ductile cast iron with excessive graphite concentration.

Being semi-retired is really the best way to be in the SEM industry. We’re just doing it because we want to do it. Yeah, it’s just something I enjoy. I've enjoyed it all my life, for 40 years now.

Just so you know how long that is, back in the day, he used to take the picture with a Polaroid camera. He’d have to wait for each image to develop. Oh yeah, those Polaroid days, I would go through cases and cases of film.

What do you see in the future of EM? What needs to happen for us to get there?

I really think it’s the integrated EDS (energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy) and EM that’s becoming available. Generally, electron microscopy is still very time consuming. If you're doing something like corrosion or failure analysis, first you take your picture and then you poke around with EDS. After that you determine if you’ve found what you’re looking for.

Ideally, you could get your image and elemental analysis simultaneously; see the chlorides, sulfides or corrosion species of interest as you obtain your micrograph. And then you can continue and zoom in on that. That's what I'm hoping we can do with the new ColorSEM. As soon as we get it back to the lab, that's my plan; it’ll be an entirely different way of looking at samples. From my non-technical perspective, when you say, what's in the future, I would also say 3D imaging. That's what I think is really the next step in microscopy. Yeah, things like microCT, tomography, etc.

Learn more about the services offered by Houston Electron Microscopy on their website.

About Dennis Manuel

Dennis Manuel is the Owner/CEO of Houston Electron Microscopy, Inc., a microanalysis lab in Houston, Texas specializing in SEM and EDS analysis of organic and inorganic materials. We sat down with him and Marina Manuel (President/CEO of Dennis ManuelHouston Electron Microscopy) at the Microscopy & Microanalysis 2019 Meeting to discuss their background with EM and what they hope to see in the future of the technique.


Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of Limited (T/A) AZoNetwork, the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and Conditions of use of this website.


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