JEOL ReaLABS feature on Microtrace

JEOL Microtrace

Scientific instrument maker JEOL recently featured Microtrace in the “REALabs” section of their website. REALab stories provide a spotlight on researcher’s work using JEOL electron microscopes and how their scientific advances are impacting their field.

The article highlights the wide-range and diversity of projects that Microtrace has contributed to: from high-profile cases, such as the Steven Avery murder trial, to Renaissance paintings and more modern collectibles including a Joe DiMaggio baseball bat. In particular, it focuses on Microtrace’s unique applications of Field-Emission Scanning Electron Microscopy (JEOL JSM 7100 FT FE-SEM) and Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy (EDS) to the unusual problems we routinely encounter.

From the article:

“Given the high-profile forensics cases handled by Microtrace, the company’s father-son team of Skip and Chris Palenik have achieved a kind of celebrity status. But more than accolades, they relish the challenges sent their way and the opportunity to summon their vast expertise to let science determine the answers to the questions posed. These questions sometimes put them in the public eye. In the fall of 2018, the second season of the popular Netflix documentary, “Making a Murderer,” aired on television, showing Chris using a JEOL Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscope. In episode 7, he examined key evidence that might help the defense’s case for a mistrial. Could the lead bullet fragment found in the garage of the defendant have passed through the skull of the victim, and were the particles embedded in the bullet fragment actually bone? After six months of waiting for a court order to release it specifically for this purpose, the lawyer watched as the embedded particles in the bullet fragment were carefully examined in situ at Microtrace’s lab in Elgin, Illinois.

“Spoiler alert! Using SEM imaging and Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (EDS) analysis, Chris found the particles to be wood, not bone, supporting the defense’s position that this was not the bullet that had killed the victim. Chris says he isn’t really sure what the outcome will be in the case, he just gave his findings with the neutrality and careful consideration for which the lab is known. “We really work hard to provide answers that actually help somebody move an investigation along,” says Chris.”

We encourage you to read the whole article here.


Since 1949, JEOL has been developing instruments used to advance scientific research and technology. JEOL has 60 years of expertise in the field of electron microscopy, more than 50 years in mass spectrometry and NMR spectrometry, and more than 40 years of e-beam lithography leadership.

JEOL USA, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of JEOL Ltd. Japan, was incorporated in the United States in 1962. The primary business of JEOL USA is sales of new instruments and peripherals and support of a vast installed base of instruments throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, and South America.

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