Analysis of Pharmaceutical Particles Using Phenom desktop Scanning Electron Microscope


The Phenom is an advanced, tabletop scanning electron microscope (SEM) offering sophisticated sample navigation functions and intuitive touch-screen controls. The microscope can be used to achieve magnifications of up to 100,000x and fast and accurate X-ray EDS analsys.

Together, these features make the Phenom an easy to operate device compared with traditional SEMs, which eliminates the need to outsource SEM work. High resolution images of pharmaceutical particles can be achieved in the laboratory within seconds, meaning scientists can perform all of their SEM work in-house.

The Phenom can also reduce the time taken for drug development and validation cycles, therefore speeding up the launch of new drug products to the market. This article shows how the Phenom SEM can be utilized for the qualitative characterization and rapid analysis of pharmaceutical particles.

Role of Particle Morphology in Drug Production

To produce a solid drug dosage, an active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) is first converted into particles, typically in the range of 0.1 to 10µm. This particulate form is then mixed with an excipient to create a large granule. This improves the flow and physiochemical properties with regard to the API.

The size and shape of API and granule particles can affect the drug’s bioavailability and dissolution behavior. The dissolution and absorption rates are faster and more predictable with smaller particles. The size and shape of particles can also influence important properties in drug manufacture, such as compaction, flow, and dissolution.

Imaging Tool

The Phenom SEM can be utilized as an imaging tool at different stages of pharmaceutical development, from development and formulation, through to manufacture.

Structure and surface morphology are the unique properties of two types of Kollidon. For instance, Figure 1 shows the round shape and smooth surface of Kollidon 25, that enables excellent dispersing action and film-forming, while Figure 2 shows the sponge-like structure of Kollidon Cl, that allows the particles to function as a disintegrant by absorbing water. Figures 3 and 4 show powder samples that are fastened to a carbon tape on a standard SEM stub, before their introduction into the Phenom system.

Figures 1-4: Kollidon 25; Kollidon Cl; and powder samples, respectively.


The Phenom SEM enables easy visualization of agglomerates, broken particles and foreign particles, therefore providing an effective device in the rapid analysis and characterization of pharmaceutical particles.

About Phenom-World


Phenom-World believe breakthroughs happen when complex nanotechnology is made intuitive, easier to use and brought within reach. As the leading global supplier of desktop scanning electron microscopes, their aim is to make imaging and analysis at the nanoscale available to every scientist in every lab.

That’s why Phenom-World invest their time and effort into developing high-quality electron microscope solutions that are functionally rich, yet simple to use. Because their mission is to create technology that has a real impact on how people work.

This takes innovative thinking, collaborative working and an entrepreneurial attitude. At their home in the high-tech region of Eindhoven in The Netherlands, Phenom-World have a group of passionate people who are given the freedom they need to innovate. Plus a highly skilled team of specialists in more than 40 countries who can provide support on a global scale.

Cooperation and co-creation are key to Phenom-World's success. They work closely with their partners to ensure they have the latest technologies, state-of-the-art equipment and applications for imaging and analysis. So they can get fast and accurate results and achieve more in nanotechnology.

Phenom-World is globally the yearly number 1 manufacturer of desktop scanning electron microscopes and imaging and analysis packages.

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Last updated: Dec 11, 2022 at 12:59 PM


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