Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) for Biofilm Assay

Creative Biolabs is a CRO provider focused on the field of next-generation probiotics discovery and functional research. We are committed to providing high-quality and economic scientific research services to our global customers. We have built a comprehensive technology platform, bringing together a team of experts from different disciplines and backgrounds, and have enough ability to provide customers with personalized customized services.


Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) is a microscopy technique based on surface scattering and electron absorption to a high depth, which can obtain the 3D appearance of the biofilm surface, the visualization of the biofilm, the distribution of the biofilm, and the EPS dispersed on the biofilm. SEM is a well-established basic method to observe the morphology of bacteria adhered to material surfaces, the morphology of the material surface, and the relationships between them. It has been used for the enumeration of adhered bacteria or tissues in a large number of samples. In contrast to light microscopy, SEM is unable to stain microorganisms/biofilms. Therefore, high magnification is required for SEM visualization of biofilms.

SEM Technique for Biofilm Assay at Creative Biolabs

SEM is a powerful technique for revealing the fine structure of biological systems and has been applied to biofilms. SEM analysis yields high-resolution images of the root canal surface, allowing morphological and structural characterization of microbial biofilm. To visualize these properties, drying the prepared samples and operating in an ultra-high vacuum is necessary. SEM can see a very thin biofilm because it is focused on the surface of the object. This is advantageous when studying early biofilm formation, however, when biofilm formation is at later growth stages, such as microbial proliferation, the images obtained by SEM are still focused on the top layer of the biofilm and therefore do not provide any information about the thickness of the biofilm or its 3D structure.

SEM image of biofilms.Fig.1 SEM image of biofilms. (Azeredo, 2017)


SEM can collect high-resolution images that help evaluate bacterial interactions, EPS organization, and biofilm morphology, which can contribute to a better understanding of formation and persistence. In general, the application of SEM techniques may present many advantages, the most important are:

  • The higher resolution of visualization microbial biofilms than other imaging techniques.
  • Able to measure and quantify data in three dimensions.
  • Wide range of magnifications.

Creative Biolabs is a leading live biotherapeutics partner providing end-to-end solutions to biotechnology, biopharmaceutical companies, academic research institutions, and university research scientists. Our process begins with a comprehensive project consultation process, in which both our technical team and project managers can help you provide solutions that meet your project needs. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you are interested in our services for the analysis of biofilms using SEM techniques.


  1. Azeredo, J.; et al. Critical review on biofilm methods. Critical reviews in microbiology. 2017, 43(3): 313-351.

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