A method for locating a chemical substance on the surface of a material and for determining the contour of a surface of a material using a scanning electrochemical microscope is provided in the present invention. The substance to be examined is immersed in a solution, the tip of a working electrode is positioned in the solution proximate the surface and an electric potential is connected directly or indirectly between the tip and the material generating a current through the tip and producing an electrochemical reaction. The current through the tip is measured at a plurality of points while the tip is scanned across the surface. The current at each point in the scan is preferably plotted to produce an image of the contour or of the differing chemical compositions on the surface of the substance being examined. The solution in which the substance and working electrode tip are immersed is chosen to enable electrochemically generated reduction and oxidation processes to occur between the surface and the tip. The changing contour or change of chemical substances over which the working electrode is scanned produces related differences in current through the tip. Light emission by electrogenerated chemiluminescence or inverse photoemission spectroscopy may also be produced and measured in the method of the present invention.