Scanning Electron Microscope

What Does Scanning Electron Microscope Mean?

A scanning electron microscope (SEM) is a type of microscope that uses electrons to create an image. This allows for higher integrity and resolution in visual display results and better control in manipulating the resulting images. Scanning electron microscopes are used in medicine and other industries to drive state-of-the-art research and engineering.


Techopedia Explains Scanning Electron Microscope

In a scanning electron microscope, an electron beam is fired out of an electron gun through various components such as scanning coils and a backscattered electron detector. Instead of using light waves, SEM interprets the paths of electrons at an atomic level. Backscattered electrons and related elements are converted into a signal that is sent to a display screen.

Although SEMs have revolutionized the field of magnification, they also come with some safety warnings. Without proper shielding and safety precautions, there could be a significant amount of radiation from this type of process. Modern SEMs are well shielded, and expert users take care to train novice individuals on how to handle them properly.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.