Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) is an extremely sensitive microscope that can magnify from 5 to over 500,000 times. While the exact resolution varies on many factors, such as the electron size and interaction volume of the beam. Strong SEMs can often provide resolution below one nm. When you consider that the human eye can only distinguish materials at .02 mm apart without magnifying lenses.
A regular light microscope only can magnify an object around 1000 times, which limits what the user can see. So, this gives great insight into how strong a SEMS is. According to Science Direct, SEMs are a type of microscope that creates images by scanning them with a beam of electrons. The beam allows for extremely accurate images created from the scattered electrons. The resulting images offer accurate imaging, depth of field, and excellent 3-D images.
By altering the beam parameters, you can vary the density of the sample, which shows minute surface and textural variances.
New Uses for Scanning Electron Microscopy:
SEMs have become a required tool being used in many fields including industrial, commercial, and research applications. The power SEMs offers high resolution in fields that rely on quality control, scientific research, and in-depth analysis.
It is often used to learn more about:
- Nanotubes and nanofibers
- High-temperature superconductors
- Alloy strength and intensity
Industries that Rely on SEMs:
Here are some of the ways that SEMs are being used in the industry:
- Electron microscopy is crucial in characterizing nanowires that can be used as gas sensors.
- Semiconductor resolution: Because semiconductors need accurate topographical info, the 3-D images offered by SEMs provide quick, accurate measurement of the composition of semiconductors.
- Assembly of microchips: Due to the minuscule size of materials used in microchips, SEMS have become an invaluable asset in the design and production phases of microchip development.
- Forensics: SEMs are used to garner evidence and insights after a crime is committed.
- Oil and rock: Geologists use SEMs to determine age, morphology, and weathering or roil and rock samples. It is also used to identify different composites that make up the rocks like soil, toxins, etc.
- Fabrication: SEMs are used during the fabrication process in industry and manufacturing.
Here are some other industries that rely on SEMs:
- Materials sciences
- Manufacturing industries
- Environmental testing and analysis
- Filtration and water technology
- Metallurgy and ceramics
- Paint and coatings
- Plastics industry
Benefits of Scanning Electron Microscope?
Light microscopes are limited because they rely on wavelengths. Electrons used in SEM have shorter wavelengths which offer higher and more defined resolutions. To get clear images from minuscule items like nanofibers, one must use electron microscopy to discern the characteristics and integrity of the nanofiber.
Here are some additional benefits:
- Extremely high magnification
- Fine resolutions
- Detection of material density
- Gradations in layers visible
We can see how SEMs are used in more ways than ever, so there appears to be no slowing in the use of SEMs in new and different ways.