Impure raw materials as a source of defects in building ceramics – analysis with scanning electron microscopy

This paper provides an insight into analysis methods with the use of scanning electron microscopy. The set-up and operating principle of the scanning electron microscope (hereinafter referred to as SEM) are described and the interaction between the electron beam and the specimen are explained. Based on three examples, two instances of efflorescence on natural red clay roofing tiles and coarse components as the cause for spalling, the procedure and possibilities for analysis with the SEM are illustrated.

1 General

Many people will have seen SEM images of ants or other minute living creatures. But this method of analysis is not only widely used in biology or other sciences, it is also a very useful method in ceramics. It is applied when defects are very small or there is insufficient material for analysis with X-ray fluorescence analysis (XRF) or X-ray diffractometry (XRD). It is used to analyse defects such as cracks, efflorescence, spalling or other defects with regard to their visual appearance and composition. On the basis of the analysis findings, conclusions can be drawn with regard to the...

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