Insights from industry

Next Generation Analysis on Lithium Samples

In this interview, Alexander Bouman, Sr. Product Marketing Manager from Thermo Scientific talks to AZoM about the features and benefits of the Thermo Scientific™ Phenom™ XL G2 Desktop Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM).

What are Some of the Thermo Scientific™ Phenom™ XL G2 Desktop Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) Features?

The Phenom XL G2 is a next-generation desktop scanning electron microscope that makes it easy to automate quality control and related processes while offering users accurate, reproducible results with minimal human error.

The instrument’s large capacity and efficient workflow help labs of any size free up time for value-added work. The Phenom XL G2 also features a user-friendly, efficient interface ideal for a wide range of applications.

An exciting new optional feature for the Phenom XL G2 is that can be used within an Argon environment. This opens up a lot of experimental possibilities and options, thus making the instrument even more versatile.

What Benefits Does the Thermo Scientific Phenom XL G2 Desktop Scanning Electron Microscope’s Argon Compatibility Confer to the User, and What Impact Does This Have on Lithium Battery Research?

The Phenom XL G2 is the only SEM that can be placed within an argon-filled glovebox, allowing users to perform research on air sensitive lithium battery samples.  

Lithium battery is used in an increasing number of applications, for example, batteries in cars and smartphones.

There have been newsworthy cases where Lithium batteries have exploded while in popular products, prompting a major recall from the market. There have also been cases where batteries in vehicles have combusted and have been very difficult to extinguish.

Current technology has led to the advent of lithium battery with liquid electrolyte, with solid state lithium battery set to be the next stage of battery research. Solid state lithium battery could help solve two key issues, offering a larger energy density and a much safer product.

The key challenge of analyzing lithium battery materials are that they are very reactive in air. Although it does not react with argon, the investigation in an argon environment does pose some challenge. A scanning electron microscope uses high acceleration voltages, up to 15000 volts, or even higher.

Using these voltages in an argon environment without appropriate precautions can cause sparking, which will ultimately damage the electronics inside SEM. The Phenom XL G2 uses dedicated technology to avoid this issue, offering the researcher a protected environment to characterize air sensitive battery samples.

The glovebox is filled with argon, and a bypass allows air to be replaced with argon to safely transport the samples into the glovebox. 

Sample preparation and imaging can all be performed in one glovebox. This not only makes the process fast, but it means that the Lithium samples remain protected by the argon environment. It can thus be used to perform research on the samples or as pre-screening tool before the sample is moved to other research equipment.

Handling of the sample holder is straightforward, despite the use of thick gloves, while the system’s long life allows this to be used for many hours without intervention.

Is the Device Aimed at Larger or Smaller Labs?

The Phenom XL G2 Desktop has a small form factor and can be used in any lab. Its form factor allows it to fit well in very small labs, while it can also be used in large labs to off-load more sophisticated equipment. And thanks to the small form factor, the system can be placed within a regular glove box.

Can You Explain How the Phenom Programming Interface Forms an Important Part of the Phenom XL G2 Desktop SEM System?

Quality control is often based on repetitive steps, meaning that this can often be automated. Since the stage of the Phenom XL G2 allows for large samples and/or multiple stubs, users can start the automated process and obtain results afterward.

Can You Explain What Gives the Long-Lifetime CeB (Cerium Hexaboride) Source an Advantage Over Tungsten?

CeB6 provides more brightness than tungsten, making it easier to generate high-quality images. The long lifetime of the source makes it ideal for automated runs as the source will not suddenly break, and there is no need to manage source exchange within the argon-filled glovebox.

Even with the long lifetime of the source, the associated software platform ensures that only operational hours are taken into account when alerting users to source change requirements.

How Does the Thermo Scientific Phenom XL G2 Desktop Scanning Electron Microscope Sample Holder Benefit Users?

Our standard sample holder accommodates 100 x 100 x 40 mm samples, or 16 x 1” or 32 x 0.5” stubs, making it the best in its class. Optional sample holders are also available, including the eucentric tilt and rotation stage, tensile and compression stage or a generic sample holder suitable for use with self-designed experiments.

The instrument’s large sample holder allows the user to investigate multiple samples simultaneously or to work with individual larger samples. As the instrument can accommodate either multiple samples or large samples, there is less need to develop complex automated processes.

How are Results Collected and Structured with the Integrated EDS Detector?

The optional EDS is fully integrated into the user interface, and the unique design of the Phenom XL G2 allows high resolution imaging and EDS analysis to be performed at the same working distance.

EDS results can be obtained during live mode. Point, line and (full) map modes are also possible.

The approach to collecting and structuring EDS results largely depends on why the user is interested in EDS; for example, to ascertain the presence of contamination within samples. In this scenario, it would be possible to employ the integrated EDS application found in the user interface.

Details can be explored via a single click, using a range of standard EDS functions.

Where Can Our Readers Find More Information about the Thermo Scientific Phenom XL G2 Desktop Scanning Electron Microscope?

People can find more information on the Phenom XL G2 on the Thermo Scientific website. A range of technical documents, videos and product data sheets are also available. Our team is also happy to answer any queries or provide more information if required.

About Alexander Bouman

Alexander Bouman is a Sr. Product Marketing Manager at Thermo Scientific Phenom Desktop SEM. He has an MSc in Chemical Engineering, and his background is in product management in industrial lighting and Phenom desktop SEM.


This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Thermo Fisher Scientific – Electron Microscopy Solutions.

For more information on this source, please visit Thermo Fisher Scientific – Electron Microscopy Solutions.

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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