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July 26th, 2007
Closing the Imaging Gap Between Optical and Electron Microscopy
A new tabletop SEM combines the high magnification of electron microscopy with the ease of use of optical microscopy to improve performance in a benchtop instrument.
A radical new breed of microscope fills the critical gap between optical and electron microscopy. Optical microscopes are easy to use but generally limited to useful magnifications of 1,000x or less. Electron microscopes routinely operate at magnifications of 100,000x but can also be orders of magnitude more difficult to operate. The new microscopes, known commonly as tabletop or benchtop scanning electron microscopes (SEM), provide useful magnifications up to 20,000x and are as easy to use as the typical laboratory-grade optical microscopes.
The new instruments could not have come at a better time since the performance gap they fill corresponds to the ability to resolve features with sizes between 5 nm and 100 nm, a range that is critical in the booming field of nanotechnology. Microelectronics, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), composite materials, and pharmaceuticals are but a few of the most obvious technologies with a pressing need for fast, easy access to structural and morphological characterization in this size range.
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