Scanning electron microscope

A scanning electron microscope (SEM) is a type of electron microscope that produces images of a sample by scanning the surface with a focused beam of electrons. The electrons interact with atoms in the sample, producing various signals that contain information about the surface topography and composition of the sample. The electron beam is scanned in a raster scan pattern, and the position of the beam is combined with the intensity of the detected signal to produce an image. In the most common SEM mode, secondary electrons emitted by atoms excited by the electron beam are detected using a secondary electron detector (Everhart–Thornley detector). The number of secondary electrons that can be detected, and thus the signal intensity, depends, among other things, on specimen topography. Some SEMs can achieve resolutions better than 1 nanometer.

Image of pollen grains taken on a SEM shows the characteristic depth of field of SEM micrographs
M. von Ardenne's first SEM
Operating principle of a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM)
SEM with opened sample chamber
Analog type SEM

Specimens are observed in high vacuum in a conventional SEM, or in low vacuum or wet conditions in a variable pressure or environmental SEM, and at a wide range of cryogenic or elevated temperatures with specialized instruments.[1]


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