What is Scanning Electron Microscopy and How Does it Work?

Scanning Electron Microscopy is a highly-effective analytical technique that can be used for artificial and natural materials. Its ability to create high-resolution images is essential in modern industry research.

In an SEM, a beam of electrons is scanned through the sample in a raster pattern. As the beam interacts with atoms on the model, backscattered electrons and characteristic X-rays are produced.

What is Scanning Electron Microscopy?

Scanning electron microscopy is a high-resolution microscope that uses electrons instead of light to produce a magnified image. It is an excellent tool for characterizing and analyzing many different materials.

Electrons in a scanning electron microscope interact with atoms at various depths within the sample to produce different signals, such as secondary electrons (SE), backscattered electrons (BSE), characteristic X-rays, and other energy-dispersive X-rays. These signals are collected by one or more detectors and then sent to a computer screen for visualization.

SEMs can provide images that are far better than optical microscopes. These images provide information about a sample’s morphology, topography, and composition.

How Does Scanning Electron Microscopy Work?

The basic working principle behind scanning electron microscopy is that it produces a beam of electrons. This beam is then accelerated down and passed through a series of lenses and apertures to have a focused beam scanned across the sample’s surface.

Scan coils above the objective lens control the position of the electron beam over the sample. This scanning enables information about a defined area on the model to be collated, producing several signals in the form of secondary electrons, backscattered electrons, and characteristic X-rays.

These signals are then detected by detectors and turned into images that can be displayed on a computer monitor. The image’s resolution can vary depending on the type of detector used. To learn more about Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and how their services can benefit us, you can visit

Their advantages are Extremely high magnifications possible (750,000x+), Fine resolution of small features (5-6 nm resolution), Low magnification overview of large objects possible (10mm+), Gradations visible in even similar material layers possible at low acceleration voltage, Preparation and examination of a wide range of materials, and Detection of materials of varying density possible with BSE imaging.

A scanning electron microscope (SEM) uses a beam of accelerated ions to generate sample images. These ions interact with the sample and produce signals, including secondary electrons, backscattered electrons, and characteristic X-rays.

Secondary electrons are produced when inelastic collisions of primary electrons dissipate energy and leave behind a low-energy secondary electron. They are typically emitted from valence or conduction bands of atoms within the sample and are collected by an Everhart-Thornley detector.

Backscattered electrons are generated due to inelastic scattering interactions with beam electrons, and an Everhart-Thornley electron detector also collects them. This detector is positively charged and attracts backscattered electrons.

In addition to imaging, SEMs can also be used for a variety of other analyses, including elemental mapping and spot chemical analysis using electron dispersive spectroscopy (EDS), cathodoluminescence imaging (CL), and diffracted backscattered electron microscopy (EBSD). This imaging carries information about the sample’s topography and composition. SEMs are often used for detecting phase transitions and comparing the crystallographic structure of different materials. Contact consulting firms such as CAE Marketing & Consulting to learn how they can help you with your basic characterization needs.

What are the Benefits of an SEM?

The SEM is a handy analytical tool widely used in many scientific fields. It can achieve high-resolution images and produce detailed information that other techniques cannot provide.

It’s also essential for semiconductor microchip manufacturing, providing quality control during production. It is also used to research nanowires and mesoporous materials to help improve fabrication techniques.

Scanning electron microscopes are also very useful for forensic investigations. They can be used to identify the source of a bomb, such as in the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed 202 people.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button