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Electron Microscopes are scientific instruments that use a beam of highly energetic electrons to examine objects on a very fine scale. Electron microscopes have a much greater resolving power than light microscopes, with magnifications for some electron microscopes reaching up to 2 million times.
This examination can yield the following information:
Topography: The surface features of an object or "how it looks", its texture.
Morphology: The shape and size of the particles making up the object.
Composition: The elements and compounds that the object is composed of and the distribution of the relative amounts of them.
Crystallographic Information: How the atoms are arranged in the object.
Transmission electron microscope (TEM)
In the TEM, a beam of electrons is passed through an ultra-thin specimen. Information can be obtained from the electrons that have interacted with the specimen as they pass through
Morphology: The size, shape and arrangement of the structures which make up the specimen as well as their relationship to each other, at resolutions up to the scale of atomic diameters.
Crystallographic Information: The arrangement of atoms in the specimen and their degree of order, detection of atomic-scale defects at resolutions up to a few nanometres
Compositional Information (if so equipped): The elements and compounds the sample is composed of and their relative ratios, at resolutions up to the nanometre scale
Scanning electron microscope (SEM)
SEMs image a sample by rastering a beam of electrons across the surface while measuring signals that contain information such as the topography, morphology and composition of the sample.
Topography: The surface features of an object or "how it looks", its texture; detectable features limited to a few nanometres
Morphology: The shape, size and arrangement of the particles making up the object that are lying on the surface of the sample or have been exposed by grinding or chemical etching; detectable features can be as small as a few nanometres
Composition: The elements and compounds the sample is composed of and their relative ratios, in areas from millimetre scales to sub micron.
Atomic force microscope(AFM)
Atomic force microscopy (AFM) is a method of measuring surface topography on a scale from angstroms to 100 microns. The technique involves imaging a sample through the use of a probe, or tip, with a radius of 20 nm. AFM is being used to solve processing and materials problems in a wide range of technologies affecting the electronics, telecommunications, biological, chemical, automotive, aerospace, and energy industries. The materials being investigating include thin and thick film coatings, ceramics, composites, glasses, synthetic and biological membranes, metals, polymers, and semiconductors. The AFM is being applied to studies of phenomena such as abrasion, adhesion, cleaning, corrosion, etching, friction, lubrication, plating, and polishing