Carl Zeiss on August 17 introduced the Smart Particle Investigator (SmartPI), a software package for use with ZEISS Scanning Electron Microscopes (SEM) that enables the automatic detection, investigation and characterisation of particles of interest.

SmartPI integrates all aspects of the SEM control, Image Processing and Energy Dispersive X-ray (EDX) analysis for particle detection and characterisation within a single application. A high degree of automation for repetitive sample analysis provides non-subjective results with minimal user involvement and enables continuous unattended operation of the instrument. Automated calibration and diagnostic procedures ensure results accuracy and system stability and an advanced stop-criteria allows early termination of the analysis if a predefined threshold is reached, thereby significantly reducing the analysis time.

The applications of Smart PI are virtually unlimited and include manufacturing cleanliness and quality control, wear analysis with failure prediction (e.g. oil analysis of jet engines), geological survey and mining, forensics, environmental monitoring and more.

Ease of use
Special attention has been given to ease of use. Due to the automated nature of SmartPI daily operation only requires an operator to load and unload samples and initiate the predefined analysis routines (recipes), however more experienced operators can create or modify recipes to meet their specific requirements. All recipes, system configuration and results data are stored in an auditable database to allow easy data review and export.

Border Particle Stitching
A special feature of the SmartPI package is the border particle stitching algorithm which determines the full characteristics and measurements of an individual particle which crosses multiple fields. Images of stitched particles can easily be saved and reviewed.

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X-ray analysis and chemical classification of filtered particles from manufacturing cleanliness monitoring in the automotive industry. The major features of the X-ray spectrum indicate that the source of this contamination is derived from a bearing steel.