Electron microscope

An electron microscope is a microscope that uses a beam of accelerated electrons as a source of illumination. As the wavelength of an electron can be up to 100,000 times shorter than that of visible light photons, electron microscopes have a higher resolving power than light microscopes and can reveal the structure of smaller objects. A scanning transmission electron microscope has achieved better than 50 pm resolution in annular dark-field imaging mode[1] and magnifications of up to about 10,000,000× whereas most light microscopes are limited by diffraction to about 200 nm resolution and useful magnifications below 2000×.

A modern transmission electron microscope
Diagram of a transmission electron microscope
Electron microscope constructed by Ernst Ruska in 1933

Electron microscopes use shaped magnetic fields to form electron optical lens systems that are analogous to the glass lenses of an optical light microscope.

Electron microscopes are used to investigate the ultrastructure of a wide range of biological and inorganic specimens including microorganisms, cells, large molecules, biopsy samples, metals, and crystals. Industrially, electron microscopes are often used for quality control and failure analysis. Modern electron microscopes produce electron micrographs using specialized digital cameras and frame grabbers to capture the images.


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