Below are some sample images taken with a scanning electron microscope. The images are from various failure analyses performed over the years and illustrate some of the capabilities of an SEM.
SEM image of a gun barrel fracture surface. The barrel failed by torsional overload during manufacture when a reamer broke and stuck in barrel. The fracture surface shows a dimpled rupture or microvoid coalescence structure indicative of an overload failure.
SEM image of a polished cross section of a cast iron water pipe. The pipe failed as a result of graphitic corrosion. The image shows areas where the cast iron structure has been replaced by iron oxides and graphite (dark gray and black areas). Graphitic corrosion is a form of selected leaching.
SEM image of the fracture surface of a die cast zinc bicycle wrench. The observed structure is cleavage fracture. The wrench failed in a brittle manner when impacted.
SEM image of the fracture surface of an Alloy 4340 tensile specimen. The specimen was embrittled by hydrogen. The hydrogen caused the material to separate along grain boundaries resulting in the characteristic "rock candy" like structure.
SEM image of a polished cross section of an Alloy 738 cast turbine blade. The cross section was etched using Marbles solution. Gamma prime (γ') particles are present in the matrix. Changings in the particle size and distribution can be used to determine high temperature service exposure and remaining service life of the turbine blade.
SEM image of a cross section of a boller tube pit. The pits were formed as a result of poor oxygen and pH control of the boiler water.
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