Field Trip: Scanning Electron Microscope

I met Rachel’s friend from college, Laura. Laura has the awesome job of being a researcher at MSU in their ICAL (Imaging and Chemical Analysis Laboratory). Of particular interest was Laura’s job of operating the scanning electron microscope!

So of course I asked if we could have a tour! Not only did we get a tour, Laura even let me operate the machine! Oh yes folks, I got to operate a scanning electron microscope!

The first we used was the Zeiss SUPRA 55VP Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscope providing ultra high-resolution at low kV with resolutions of 1.7nm1 at 1.0kV2. Laura had a spider sample prepared and so we decided to use that. Here are some of the pictures I took:

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andrews awesome image

andrews awesome image 3

We also got to use the JEOL JSM-6100 Scanning Electron Microscope, which is quite a bit older, but just as cool.

It works a bit different from the FM-SEM, using Secondary Electron Imaging (SEI) and Backscattered Electron Imaging (BEI). Rachel has a stainless steel ring she likes to wear, so we through that in and took a look at it under the scope:

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I was pretty much like a kid in a candy store. I had an awesome time and got to add a new item to my Christmas list for next year.


  1. 1.7 x 10-9

  2. for reference, a human hair is about (1.7 x 10-5 m in width  

8 Replies to “Field Trip: Scanning Electron Microscope”

  1. I’m so glad you enjoyed the tour. Nothing is more enjoyable for me than getting to share the lab with people who appreciate it as much as I do. If you ever stop through Bozeman again, definitely come by the lab and I’ll let you use the FEM again.

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