Standard Active Last Updated: May 12, 2022 Track Document
ASTM E2809-22

Standard Guide for Using Scanning Electron Microscopy/Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy (SEM/EDS) in Forensic Polymer Examinations

Standard Guide for Using Scanning Electron Microscopy/Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy (SEM/EDS) in Forensic Polymer Examinations E2809-22 ASTM|E2809-22|en-US Standard Guide for Using Scanning Electron Microscopy/Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy (SEM/EDS) in Forensic Polymer Examinations Standard new BOS Vol. 14.02 Committee E30
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Significance and Use

4.1 This guide is intended to advise and assist the analyst in the preparation of polymer samples (for example, paint and tape) for SEM/EDS, the collection of data by SEM/EDS, and the interpretation of images and data resulting from these analyses.

4.2 When polymers are constructed as layered materials, SEM/EDS analysis is conducted on each polymeric layer individually. This analysis can be hindered by a non-discernable layer structure (for example, smear, irregular segregation within the layer system).

4.3 SEM-EDS data can be useful in:

4.3.1 Layer Elucidation—SEM images provide insight into the layer structure of a sample.

4.3.2 Texture Elucidation—SEM images and elemental maps provide insight into the texture (for example, surface topography, distribution of inclusions).

4.3.3 Element Identification—Determination of the elements detected in a sample layer.

4.3.4 Relative Elemental Abundance Determination—An EDS spectrum permits the relative abundance of elements in samples to be compared.

4.4 In the context of a forensic polymer comparison, the evaluation of SEM/EDS results are intended to provide insight into the following forensic tasks:

4.4.1 Comparison of structure, texture, and elemental data.

4.4.2 Support for results from other instruments (for example, the presence of calcium, oxygen, and carbon in the EDS spectrum obtained from discrete particles indicates the presence of calcium carbonate as observed in an infrared spectrum). Refer to Guides E2937 and E3085 for further details.

4.4.3 Significance of results given the presence of certain elements, layer structures, or textures.


1.1 This guide covers recommended techniques and procedures intended for use by forensic laboratory personnel that perform SEM/EDS analyses on polymer samples.

1.2 This guide describes various techniques and procedures used in the SEM/EDS analysis of polymers that include sample handling and preparation, instrument operating conditions, and spectral data collection, evaluation and interpretation.

1.3 The theoretical aspects of many of the topics presented can be found in texts such as Scanning Electron Microscopy and X-ray Microanalysis (1).2

1.4 This guide is intended to be applied within the scope of a broader analytical scheme (for example, Guides E1610, E3260) for the forensic analysis of a polymer sample. An SEM/EDS analysis can provide additional information regarding the potential relationships between the sources of polymeric materials.

1.5 This guide is intended for use by competent forensic science practitioners with the requisite formal education, discipline-specific training (see Practices E2917, E3233, and E3234), and demonstrated proficiency to perform forensic casework.

1.6 The values stated in SI units are to be regarded as standard. Other units of measurement are included in this standard where applicable as a result of common usage (for example, keV).

1.7 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety, health, and environmental practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.

1.8 This international standard was developed in accordance with internationally recognized principles on standardization established in the Decision on Principles for the Development of International Standards, Guides and Recommendations issued by the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee.

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Book of Standards Volume: 14.02
Developed by Subcommittee: E30.01
Pages: 8
DOI: 10.1520/E2809-22
ICS Code: 07.140; 17.180.30; 87.040