Celebrating the 50th Birthday of Microanalysis

Sia Afshari, Global Marketing Manager, EDAX

The Microscopy & Microanalysis (M&M) Conference is celebrating 50 years of microanalysis at this year’s meeting in St. Louis next week. There is an entire session (A18.3) dedicated to the 50-year anniversary and the historical background of microanalysis from several different perspectives.

My colleague, Dr. Patrick Camus will be presenting the history of EDAX in his presentation, “More than 50 Years of Influence on Microanalysis” at this session and this is a must see for everyone who is at all interested in the historical development and advances in microanalysis!

Looking back at some of the images in the field of microscopy and seeing how far we have come from static spectrum collection to the standardless quantification of complex materials makes me wonder (in a good way!), about the future and especially about the technical possibilities in microanalysis.

Figure 1. Nuclear Diodes EDAX System Interfaced to Cambridge Stereoscan Scanning Electron Microscope – circa 1968

Pat will be describing the evolution of the company from Nuclear Diodes (1962) through EDAX International (1972) and purchase by Philips (1974) to acquisition by Ametek in 2001. Many accomplished microanalysts have been part of the EDAX team along the journey and have contributed enormously to the technical development of microanalysis. The advancements which have been made to date and those which will continue in the future would have not been possible without the dedication and hard work of all these pioneers in this field.

Figure 2. EDAX Element Silicon Drift Detector on a Scanning Electron Microscope – 2017.

At EDAX, which happens to be older than 50 years, I have been honored to meet some of the pioneers of microanalysis. I extend my gratitude to all those whose work has made it possible for us to enjoy the level of sophistication achieved today and we hope to continue their innovative tradition!

Please click here for more information on EDAX at M&M 2017.

To Attend, or Not to Attend Trade Shows? That is the Question!

Roger Kerstin – US Sales Manager, EDAX

From the point of view of a regional Sales Manager, for a long time, trade shows were the ultimate way to bring in new customers and reach many of your existing customers all at the same time. However, previously gigantic shows like Pittcon now continue to get smaller and smaller every year. When I attended my first Pittcon in 2000, it was so big that only a few venues in the country could host it. Now it seems that it could be placed anywhere and there is no longer a size issue. With more focus on the internet the trade shows almost seem like they are not needed any longer.


As you see I said almost. I do feel that participation in tradeshows is and will continue to be important for a long time both for vendors/exhibitors and customers/participants. As exhibitors, they allow us to meet with current customers, see new and exciting trends and/or products, and talk to potential new customers. All of this in one place. Yes, it can be expensive to attend these shows all the time, especially the larger ones but let’s just think about the cost in more detail. Let’s think about it from the perspective of the exhibitor. If we get 50 leads from a larger show that maybe costs $25,000. Wow, that’s $500 per lead. If I were to go out and try to visit 50 potential customers it would take weeks and there would be a lot of travel and a lot more expense. I would say that overall we would probably spend more to visit these 50 potential customers across the region and it would take 4-5 times as long. So not only are we spending more money, we are taking valuable time in doing so.

Sometimes I hear that the exhibitors are saying the show is too long, or that it was a waste of money. I can even say that I have said that in the past as well, but if we look at the bigger picture, it really isn’t that bad. At a trade show we not only have attendees that are there to look, learn, and possibly purchase products or services. They are also coming to see us or other companies like ours and we can be passive and not get a lot out of it or we can be nice, friendly, and accessible. If we are the latter, then we potentially can start up a new relationship with a new customer. At some shows we also have a team there that usually wouldn’t be with us on the door-to-door visits. At a show, we may have product support, sales, service and if needed can address all avenues with one meeting. Potential customers have a chance to see new technology advancements at close hand and can even request an individual demo at a given event. To do this elsewhere would be costlier and more time consuming for both us and for our customers.

EDAX with TESCAN at Pittcon 2017 EDAX at M&M 2016

Some of these large shows probably do need to be shortened as it seems at some of them, the last day is a time where the vendors meet vendors and not a lot of customers are coming around, but even on that note it could be beneficial as this is where we make connections with others doing similar things and there could potentially be partnerships or mutually beneficial outcomes. In short, I will continue to support the value of our events and tradeshow attendance – we look forward to seeing you at ‘M&M 2017’!

Considerations for your New Year’s Resolutions from Dr. Pat

Dr. Patrick Camus, Director of Research and Innovation, EDAX

The beginning of the new calendar year is a time to reflect and evaluate important items in your life. At work, it might also be a time to evaluate the age and capabilities of the technical equipment in your lab. If you are a lucky employee, you may work in a newly refurbished lab where most of your equipment is less than 3 years old. If you are such a fortunate worker, the other colleagues in the field will be envious. They usually have equipment that is much more than 5 years old, some of it possibly dating from the last century!

Old Jalopy circa 1970 EDAX windowless Si(Li) detector circa early 70’s

In my case, at home my phone is 3 years old and my 3 vehicles are 18, 16, and 3 years old. We are definitely evaluating the household budget this year to upgrade the oldest automobile. We need to decide what are the highest priority items and which are not so important for our usage. It’s often important to sort through the different features offered and decide what’s most relevant … whether that’s at home or in the lab.

Octane Elite Silicon Drift Detector 2017 Dr. Pat’s Possible New Vehicle 2017

If your lab equipment is older than your vehicles, you need to determine whether the latest generation of equipment will improve either your throughput or the quality of your work. The latest generations of EDAX equipment can enormously speed up throughput and the improve quality of your analysis over that of previous generations – it’s just a matter of convincing your boss that this has value for the company. There is no time like the present for you to gather your arguments into a proposal to get the budget for the new generation of equipment that will benefit both you and the company.
Best of luck in the new year!

From Third World to First World – Through Innovation, Technology and Manufacturing.

Koh Kwan Loke, Regional Sales Manager Asia, EDAX


Changi Airport, Singapore

Another Sunday and I woke up early in the morning to have some local coffee before heading to the airport. When I reached Singapore Changi airport, I started to consider all the airports I have visited. After going through my fingers for a couple of rounds, I realized that I have been to >20 countries and >60 airports around the world.

Over the years I have spent many hours waiting in airports and I started to wonder why airports around the world spend so much money on doing up and renovating their older facilities. I have seen many transformations of other airports and tend to compare these airports with Singapore.

In one of the fastest growing countries – China, I have been to many local domestic airports. They are all built with fine architecture and a sense of ecofriendly design. The government is determined to improve infrastructure by building roads and highways, to link airports to cities. There is an old saying that to connect the world, you need a good transportation system. Like the Romans 2000 years ago, they build roads for easy transport of goods and soldiers. There is no comparison with the advanced infrastructures, which China has spent so much money on and this gives the first world countries a head start.

So this lead me to think about the extensive changes, which have taken place in my region over the last few years. Overall we have seen a transition in Asia from a 3rd world to 1st world region in terms of innovation, technology, and manufacturing. This is due to investment from government and private sectors and ensures that Asia will be a key player in the world economy.

Kinetic Rain (Changi Airport Terminal 1)

Kinetic Rain (Changi Airport Terminal 1)

Asia is a key and important market for Electron Microscopy and EDAX has benefited too as users upgrade older system for newer ones. EDAX now has installations on EM systems from all the principal global manufacturers. With the new products we have launched recently, we are confident that we can generate a good traction for business in the various countries of the region.

China is always hungry for new technologies and with our latest EDS and EBSD products, there is a good flow of new inquiries. After the launch of the ELEMENT Silicon Drift Detector (SDD), the China team has sold >30 units in 6 months. EDAX has been selling averagely two EBSD per quarter and this volume has generated a new breed of EBSD users. More and more EBSD applications have been presented and discussed at local conferences. EDAX can do our part by more sending more experts from the factory to have sharing sessions either during conferences or through individual meetings.

EDAX has grown in India over the years and has become a top supplier for EDS and EBSD. We currently have >50% market share for EBSD and have been recognized by key tier 1 universities. We have been successful in improving our market position through consistency and persistence. There were challenges for EDAX but we overcame them one at a time and we now have support from all major Electron Microscope suppliers. We now have a good team in India, comprising sales and applications support for all the local day to day requirements.

Singapore has been a key location for some time with many high end system purchases by industrial and academic customers. With the influx of manufacturing companies setting up facilities in South East Asia, this create good opportunities for EDAX products. One recent success we had was the sale of ORBIS µXRF analyzers into the forensic and electronic industries. We have also successful penetrated Malaysia MJIT with EDS and EBSD on a JEOL SEM. This will be a good reference for future potentials in the S.E.A. region.

Asia will continue to be a hub for research and manufacturing. We will expect to see assembly facilities setting up in Vietnam, Philippines and Malaysia, new requirements for Electron Microscopes and EDS. India government is determined to create a “Build in India” campaign and attract foreign investment to improve India economy.

All this development, which is so obvious in the airports and transportation systems of the region, can also be seen in many industries, including microscopy and microanalysis. If you would like to hear more, please give us a call or come and pay us a visit!

From Shanghai to Melbourne and Beyond – Perspectives From a New World Traveler

Dr. Sophie Yan, Applications Engineer China


Click here to read Sophie’s blog in Chinese.

When I arrived in Melbourne from Shanghai, where the temperature was the coldest it had been in 30 years, I admired the beautiful flowers and greenery on my way from the airport and I just wondered, “is this the so-called life as an international traveler?”

On my visit to Melbourne for the ACMM conference, I was tasked to support in-system installations before the event. Even though I came prepared, once I got on-site, there were so many situations and unforeseen circumstances that I felt quite overwhelmed and for the whole of that afternoon, I seemed to be struggling and scrambling. Fortunately, with the help of the local partners, issues were resolved and the situation improved!

Despite an unfamiliar environment and unfamiliar experiences, it turned quickly into a positive experience and there were pleasant surprises because of the heartening support and generous smiles from the local team. Attending the banquets and parties in the evening was something I had never experienced before. I met a nice lady from the organizing committee and I told her that such experiences were very strange for me and I had only seen them on television. She was very surprised by my comments.


When I attended a conference in the US last year, as a new member of the company, many colleagues came to introduce themselves to me. Because of my shyness and because I didn’t know them, the only thing I could do was to smile back at them. At meal times, I was completely lost on what to order. Suddenly a knight in shining armor (from Europe) came to my rescue. He patiently went through the menu with me and helped me place my order.

My impression of America was so different from what I had seen on the big screen. There was the tranquility of a small hill town with trees lining both sides of the road. To my surprised, I saw slim   Americans strolling on the street and my colleagues smiled at me and told me that not all Americans are obese! Seeing America for myself has given me a totally new impression of the country. In life, the human race should have tolerance and hope, a reward for the hard work we put in, and be able to restore its pure nature and life.

Self reliance is typically what lies within the Chinese and we never show our confidence in public. We tried hard to prove ourselves, but there is a price to pay. It is this feeling that has overwhelmed me and has guided my facial expressions. Many a time, my colleagues remind me to “Smile” and I am working hard to give a more positive impression.

In China, we have a focused belief in working hard and achieving excellence in studies, setting targets and staying on track, getting a job and leading a normal life. Recalling what I have been through, I was lost and confused like many of my peers. Ten years ago, I had the opportunity to go to Paris as an exchange student and this changed my life. I met friends as well as retired lecturers, who spent time showing me around in Paris, going to the Arc de Triomphe, eating their favorite foods, such as meat rolls. My fond memories were captured in the many photos we took. I am so lucky to have met these wonderful and kind people in a distant and unfamiliar place. Despite the difference in skin color, goodwill gestures and a shared love of the place let travelers like myself feel more comfortable staying in a foreign country.


René, my colleague from Europe, has boasted about the countries he has visited and the people he has met. As an experienced Applications Engineer, he is always able to show customers what they need to know. The feedback always from customers is that “he knows everything”. I am so impressed by his knowledge and confidence.  René says that he has gained this knowledge and experience from many years of working with the system. He seems to have enjoyed such a lifestyle.

During the gala dinner at the Australia Conference, I saw many ‘PhDs’ and engineering and research professionals enjoying their evening events and dancing on the dance floor. Such actions surprised me at first but later, I enjoyed the events too.

More and more Chinese people are traveling regularly to explore and expand our knowledge, and have become influential in the market. This internationalization trend is inevitable, and we see many shopping malls and public areas covered with decorations to greet the upcoming Lunar New Year festival. We travel and think about what we have seen. What else have we brought back with us in addition to visits to tourist attractions? Life continues and we will experience many things – good or bad, we will calmly take one thing at a time.

Last but not least, with the Lunar Year of the Monkey, I would like to take this opportunity to hope that everyone celebrates this Spring Festival with happiness and to wish my friends and colleagues happy travels as they enjoy the growing International Lifestyle.

What do you do for a living?

Mike Coy, Global Marketing Manager, EDAX

Not too long ago, my daughter asked me to come to her school and give a talk about my job to her Career Investigation class.  The dreaded “What do I do for a living” talk.  Since I have never really been successful explaining that to family and friends who might actually be interested, I was not terribly optimistic that I would be successful with a group of teenagers who would be more interested in their phones, laptops and the class bell.
EDAX Bridge
Nevertheless, I decided to take on the challenge and try to make it something both interesting and helpful to them.  I knew if I started talking about X-ray lines, Kikuchi patterns and (god forbid) quantification algorithms, I would lose them before I finished the first slide.  At that point, I had to ask myself what excites me about my job…and it isn’t necessarily those things either.

I really enjoy visiting our customers, and while we certainly talk about things like resolution and throughput, to me, it is the application of our products that is most exciting.  What materials characterization problems are they solving?  What process needs to be fixed, or monitored, or developed?  What is the final product that they are trying to produce?  Those are the really exciting things about my job at EDAX.  We have customers in a great variety of markets, from automotive to zoology, and everywhere in between, and I’m lucky enough to meet and learn from many of them, and to know that EDAX helps them do their jobs better.
EDAX car
So what do I do for a living?  I don’t design sports cars, but I help make them lighter and more fuel efficient.  I don’t build bridges or skyscrapers, but I help make them stronger and safer.  I don’t discover new medicines, but I help make the process faster and more efficient to help people live longer and be healthier.  Our mission at EDAX is to develop characterization tools to help people to solve the difficult problems and enable the next generation of technology.  And that is pretty exciting to me.

Perspectives from an exhibition

Dr. Mehdi Bolorizadeh

As the new product manager for the EDS products at EDAX, I had my first opportunity this year to attend Booth Semicon Korea, which was held in Seoul last week. This show is the region’s largest manufacturing event with over 550 exhibitors, displaying new products and technologies for microelectronics design and manufacturing.  It featured technologies from across the microelectronics supply chain.  I was there to support the presence of the new EDAX Element Silicon Drift Detector (SDD) on the Ametek booth  and I was also looking forward to learning about all the other new products and technologies exhibited at the show. It was an amazing experience visiting different booths and talking to many different vendors each day.  Even though I thought I had planned my time carefully, I still wasn’t able to gather all the information I wanted.

Mehdi Sia FrankAs members of the materials characterization, microanalysis and research world, we all share similar challenges and experiences. We set out to analyze different materials and provide accurate results to help with the improvement of existing products and the research and development of new solutions in a wide variety of different markets. Looking at the analysis tools and techniques at the show, I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of products available!

When we approach an analysis task, we may know, for example, that a sample contains Tungsten, but we don’t know where it is or how much of it there is. There are numerous different analytical techniques with different throughputs and resolutions, which can help us to pinpoint the location and quantity of an element in the sample. It is crucial to know which techniques and tools to use and how to balance the resolution and throughput of the signal to get the best possible results.

The new Element SDD was designed to play a key role for industrial customers who are facing critical materials analysis tasks on a daily basis, providing fast and accurate solutions in minimal time.  Its capabilities are optimized for the right balance between throughput and resolution used in industrial applications. Launching Element at SemiCon Korea was a great experience as it enabled me to share EDAX technology with materials characterization experts from many fields and companies, and learn more about actual analysis challenges, which will give us the insight to ensure that EDAX is helping to solve real problems to enable the next generation of technology.