Applied Microscopy

Expertise in Applied Microscopy
for the Built Environment

Not all problems are solved by a single instrument or method. Sometimes you must go a little further. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, an early pioneer of microscopy in the 17th century, couldn’t have imagined the sophistication and variety of techniques and applications being practiced today. And one company, SGS, has the depth of experience and instrumentation to provide environmental professionals the applied microscopy services to meet such a broad range of analysis services for the built environment.


SGS materials analysis services cover a wide spectrum of analyses that provide solutions on most problems having to do with microscopic solids.

Particulate Analysis (Settled Dust Analysis)

An effective strategy for determining indoor air quality problem sources is the combination approach of using light and electron microscopy in tandem with vibrational spectroscopy (Raman and Infrared) for identification of dust components. For example, most indoor dusts are composed of relatively common environmental materials including organic and mineral fibers, mineral grains, metal oxides, and biological particulate. These dusts are typically a mixture of anthropogenic (human-modified) and natural sources. Determining this usually involves a characterization of the dust to define its individual components. The complete characterization of indoor dusts usually involves a multi-level analysis.

Indoor Air Quality

Similar in methods to particulate analysis, many indoor air quality (IAQ) investigations concentrate on collected air samples rather than settled dust. Virtually any fiber or particle down to sub-micron sizes can be identified with the combined use of light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy and vibrational spectroscopy. These methods are commonly used to give a detailed analysis of airborne dusts when required, such as when trying to identify specific contaminants or define a particle population or size range during an IAQ investigation.

In addition to applied microscopy services, SGS provides all the services required for IAQ analysis. Find all the details here.

Materials Analysis

Compact disc pirating, antiquities authentication, foreign substances in processed foods, unknown white powder identification, paint analysis stemming from an auto accident, aircraft crash investigation and examination of materials to help determine the cause of a major safety incident are a few of the many reasons clients turn to SGS for material identification and characterization purposes. In addition to the comprehensive instrumentation at our lab, SGS provides the investigative expertise to consult with the client, design an experimental procedure and perform the needed analyses.

Wildfire Residue Analysis

SGS offers quick turnaround and easy reporting for wildfire ash and char testing. After a wildfire, our expert team will help you determine the best sampling and analysis strategy of settled dust to determine the extent of infiltration into a property of char and ash due to a wildfire. Our SGS team has spent years researching and developing this service and is a leader in the industry.

For additional details on our wildfire ash and char testing services, CLICK HERE.



Using our extensive assortment of instrumentation, we can:

  • Identify the basic morphology of particles with Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM)
  • Determine elemental composition with Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM/EDS)
  • Outline chemical structure with Micro-Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (micro-FTIR) and Raman Spectroscopy (Raman)

Combining this data with the expertise of the scientists and investigators at SGS can solve most process control, contamination, indoor air quality or other industrial problems saving the client both time and money.

Contact Us

To find out more about SGS Applied Microscopy services or to order, contact our Client Service representatives in these ways, or fill out the electronic form below:

   Call toll-free at +1 800 827 3274

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