In this technique, a scanning electron microscope directs a narrowly focused beam of high-energy electrons at the paint sample. Some of these electrons are reflected back by the sample. This makes it possible to create an image of the surface of the sample on a screen, often in the form of a backscattered electron image (BEI). Other electrons lose energy through interaction with the atoms in the paint sample. Some of this energy is released in the form of X-rays. When bombarded with electrons, each element produces X-rays with characteristic energy levels. By recording the X-ray energy peaks in the form of a spectrum, we can determine what elements are present in the sample.
This technique is known as SEM-EDX, which stands for scanning electron microscopy and energy-dispersive analysis of X-radiation.
Learn more in the Dutch-language video below.