Source: Peiman Shahbeigi and Sina Shahbazmohamadi, Biomedical Engineering Department, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut
A scanning electron microscope (SEM) is an instrument that uses an electron beam to nondestructively image and characterize conductive materials in a vacuum. As an analogy, an electron beam is to the SEM as light is to the optical microscope. The difference is that the electron microscope yields images of much higher resolution and magnification. The best optical microscopes typically have a resolution down to 200 nm, whereas SEMs usually claim a resolution of 0.5 nm. This is due to the fact that optical microscopes are limited by the diffraction of waves, a function of the wavelength, which is around 500 nm for visible light. Conversely, the SEM uses an energized electron beam, which as a wavelength of 1 nm. This characteristic makes them very dependable tools for the study of nano and microstructures. Electron microscopes also enable the study of biological samples with feature sizes too small for optical microscopy.
This demonstration provides an introduction to sample preparation and initial image acquisition of biological samples using a scanning electron microscope. In this case, a collagen-hydroxyapatite (HA) cellular scaffold will be studied…