electron microscope

« Back to Glossary Index

An electron microscope is a microscope that uses a beam of accelerated electrons as a source of illumination. Because the wavelength of an electron can be up to 100,000 times shorter than that of visible light photons, the electron microscope has a higher resolving power than a light microscope and can reveal the structure of smaller objects. A transmission electron microscope can achieve better than 50 pm resolution and magnifications of up to about 10,000,000x whereas most light microscopes are limited by diffraction to about 200 nm resolution and useful magnifications below 2000x.

Microscope

The transmission electron microscope uses electrostatic and electromagnetic lenses to control the electron beam and focus it to form an image. These electron optical lenses are analogous to the glass lenses of an optical light microscope. Electron microscopes are used to investigate the ultrastructure of a wide range of biological and inorganic specimens including  microorganisms, cells, large molecules, biopsy samples, metals, and crystals. Industrially, the electron microscope is often used for quality control and failure analysis. Modern electron microscopes produce electron micrographs using specialized digital cameras and frame grabbers to capture the image. (Source: WikiPedia)

electron microscope (Wikipedia)
Diagram of a transmission electron microscope
A 1973 Siemens electron microscope, Musée des Arts et Métiers, Paris

An electron microscope is a microscope that uses a beam of accelerated electrons as a source of illumination. Because the wavelength of an electron can be up to 100,000 times shorter than that of visible light photons, the electron microscope has a higher resolving power than a light microscope and can reveal the structure of smaller objects. A transmission electron microscope can achieve better than 50 pm resolution and magnifications of up to about 10,000,000x whereas most light microscopes are limited by diffraction to about 200 nm resolution and useful magnifications below 2000x.

The transmission electron microscope uses electrostatic and electromagnetic lenses to control the electron beam and focus it to form an image. These electron optical lenses are analogous to the glass lenses of an optical light microscope.

Electron microscopes are used to investigate the ultrastructure of a wide range of biological and inorganic specimens including microorganisms, cells, large molecules, biopsy samples, metals, and crystals. Industrially, the electron microscope is often used for quality control and failure analysis. Modern electron microscopes produce electron micrographs using specialized digital cameras and frame grabbers to capture the image.

« Back to Glossary Index