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A microscope: An overview

1. Introduction

A microscope is an instrument used to research tiny things which cannot be seen by naked sight. There exist three types of microscopes which are optical microscopes, electron microscopes, and scanning probe microscopes. (1) Six types of microscopes spoken in this statement are mirrored and transmitted light microscope, scanning electron microscopes (SEM), transmitting electron microscopes (TEM), concentrated ion beam (FIB), and atomic push microscope (AFM).

1. 1 Mirrored light microscopes

Reflected light microscope is a type of microscope using obvious light and something of lens to magnify images of small examples. It is employed to look at opaque specimens that will not transfer light and other materials such as ceramics. The mirrored light journeys through the objective lens, which in this set up functions as both a condenser and an objective, and hits the specimen. It is then reflected from the specimen backup through the target lens, the top, the eyepieces, and finally to the eye. (2)

1. 2 Transmitted light microscope

Transmitted light microscope is a type of microscope where in fact the light transmits from a source on the opposite aspect of the specimen from the objective. Usually the light is approved through a condenser to target it on the specimen to get very high illumination. (3)Following the light goes by through the specimen, the image of the specimen goes through the objective zoom lens and also to the oculars where in fact the enlarged image is viewed.

1. 3 Scanning electron microscope

The scanning electron microscope (SEM) is one kind of electron microscope. The SEM utilizes an extremely fine probing beam of electrons checking above the specimen to emit a variety of radiations. The indication which is proportional to the amount of radiation leaves an individual point of the sample at any time. The signal obtained from one point will screen the information of that point. Used, the points follow one another with very high speed so that the image of every point becomes an image of a lines, and the collection move down the screen so speedily that the naked eyesight sees a whole image using the pc. SEMs are patterned after reflecting light microscopes and will deliver similar information

1. 4 Transmitting electron microscope

A transmitting electron microscope (TEM) works much just like a slide projector. A projector shines a laser beam through the slip, as the light passes through it is influenced by the constructions and items on the slip. These effects lead to only certain elements of the light beam being transmitted through certain parts of the glide. This sent beam is then projected onto the taking a look at screen, building an bigger image of the glide. TEMs work the same way except that they glow a beam of electrons through the specimen. Whatever part is transmitted is projected onto a screen for the user to see. TEMs are patterned after transmission light microscopes and can yield similar information.

1. 5 Centered ion beam

A concentrated ion beam system (FIB) is a relatively new tool that has a high amount of analogy with a focused electron beam system like a scanning electron microscope or a transmission electron microscope. In SEM and TEM the electron beam is aimed towards the test generating alerts that are being used to set-up high magnification images of the test. The major difference with a concentrated ion beam system is the use of a different particle to build the principal beam that interacts with the sample. A highly focused ion beam is used rather than electrons in FIB. As the beam scans the surface of the sample, a highly magnified image is created, which allows the system operator to see the samples microscopic features clearly.

1. 6 Atomic power microscope

The AFM is one of the main tools for imaging, measuring and manipulating matter at the nanoscale. The info is gathered by 'sense' the surface with a mechanised probe. To attain atomic scale image resolution, a sharpened stylus (radius ~1-2 nm) attached to a cantilever is employed in the AFM to scan an thing point by point and contouring it while a constant small drive is applied to the stylus. Piezoelectric elements that help in tiny but correct and precise moves enable the very specific scanning. (4)

2. Study of assessment among six sorts of microscopes

2. 1 Optical microscopes

Optical microscopes, designed to use visible wavelengths of light, will be the simplest and most used. Both transmitted light microscopy and mirrored light microscopy need low energy and the microscope itself is much cheaper and smaller than electron microscopes. In comparison to electron microscopes, the optical microscopes have another advantage that the image extracted from them is in color.

Comparing to reflected light microscope, the sent light microscope only works on light translucent specimens but not metal, ceramics plus some polymers such as plastic. However sample planning of transmitted light microscope is relatively complicated. Since it requires sample skinny enough for the light to go through. This can be done by using a microtome to cut at lower heat range; as well the distortion of the section because of the sample planning is a difficulty for observing. (5)

2. 2 SEM

The SEM has allowed research workers to look at a much bigger variety of specimens no matter it is bulk or slim level. The scanning electron microscope has many advantages over optical microscopes. The SEM has a huge depth of field, which allows more of a specimen to maintain focus at one time. The SEM has higher image resolution (~1-5nm). (5)As the SEM uses electromagnets somewhat than lenses, much more control in the amount of magnification can be done. Many of these advantages, as well as the genuine strikingly clear images, make the scanning electron microscope one of the very most useful instruments in research today.

However, materials that can be evaluated in the SEM must be vacuum compatible, clean and electrically executing such as metallic. But for non-conducting materials such as ceramic and polymers, platinum or carbon finish on the top of sample is vital.

2. 3 TEM

TEM is a technology by using a high energy (80-200kV) beam of electrons to transmit through an super thin specimen (50-200nm). High res (~0. 2nm) is the most important advantage of TEM. (5)

However, there are a variety of downsides to the TEM technique. Many materials require intensive sample preparation to make a test thin enough to be electron transparent, which makes TEM analysis a relatively time consuming process. The composition of the test may be modified during the preparation process. Also the field of view is relatively small, which contributes to the region examined may not be quality of the complete sample. There is certainly potential that the sample may be broken by the electron beam, especially in the case of natural materials.

2. 4 FIB

FIB is usually used to look at metal surfaces. In the event the sample is non-conductive, a low energy electron overflow gun may be used to provide fee neutralization.

FIB is inherently destructive to the specimen because when the high-energy gallium ions hit the sample, they will sputter atoms from the top. Ga atoms may also be implanted into the top few nanometers of the top making the top amorphous. (6) These restrictions produce noticeable effects when using techniques such as high-resolution 'lattice imaging' TEM or electron energy reduction spectroscopy.

2. 5 AFM

The AFM is a very high-resolution kind of scanning probe microscope, with confirmed image resolution of fractions of just one 1 nm. (4)

AFM offers a true three-dimensional surface account. Additionally, samples seen by AFM do not require any special treatments such as layer. Most AFM settings can work flawlessly in air or perhaps a liquid environment without a need of vacuum. This can help you review not only material, ceramic, polymer but also biological macromolecules and even living organisms. In basic principle, AFM provides higher image resolution than SEM. It's been shown to give true atomic quality in ultra-high vacuum and in liquid surroundings. High res AFM is comparable in resolution to TEM.

A disadvantage of AFM weighed against the scanning electron microscope (SEM) is the image size. The AFM can only just image a maximum level on the order of 10-20 micrometers and a maximum scanning portion of around 150 by 150 micrometers. (4)

Another inconvenience is usually that the AFM cannot check images as fast as an SEM, necessitating several minutes for a typical check, while a SEM is with the capacity of scanning at near real-time following the chamber is evacuated. The relatively poor rate of scanning during AFM imaging often leads to thermal drift in the image making the AFM microscope less fitted to measuring correct distances between topographical features on the image. (4)

2. 6 Competition

3. Exemplory case of applications

3. 1 Mirrored light microscope

Normally, mirrored light microscope is employed to image steel, ceramic and rubber. That's the reason why additionally it is called metallurgical microscope. Nowadays it becomes a fast growing interest; especially in regard to its increasing effectiveness in the fluorescence microscopy as well as the quickly growing semiconductor industry acquired also resulted in a rise in the use of mirrored light microscopes. (7)

3. 2 Transmitted light microscope

Polymers can commonly be looked at under the sent light microscope, because the majority of them are translucent or translucent. Additionally, it may analyze cell pieces extracted from organism. Most of the lab can afford a transmitted light microscope since it is relatively cheap.

3. 3 SEM

About any methodical field may use an SEM as a study tool. It can be used to check out the crystalline structures of chemical compounds and exactly how their bonds form. A scanning electron microscope is especially useful for looking at the floors of materials at an atomic level.

3. 4 TEM

TEM can do diffraction examination of small areas by preferred area diffraction. High res x-ray microanalysis and examination of crystal flaws such as dislocations, stacking faults using diffraction comparison can even be done by using TEM. Another important software is it can image lattice of crystalline materials. (8)

3. 5 FIB

FIB can be utilized as Ion beam imaging. The FIB offers the capability to perform nanopatterning and micromachining respectively, and by instructing the device to add or remove essential features, operator can design and prototype a fresh micro or nanostructure, modify involved circuits and mix section specific features to allow failure evaluation even in the 3D (TEM sample prep). FIB is also used for Supplementary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS). (7) The ejected secondary ions are gathered and analyzed after the surface of the specimen has been sputtered with, the burkha focused ion beam.

3. 6 AFM

The atomic force microscope (AFM) is one of the very most powerful tools for deciding the surface topography of native biomolecules at subnanometer quality. AFM allows biomolecules to be imaged not only under physiological conditions, but also while natural processes are at work. The AFM can also provide insight in to the binding properties of biological systems.

4. Summary

Characteristics of six different types of microscopes are compared in this article, including sample preparation and technique constraints. Each one has its advantage and disadvantage, so that it is necessary to consider comprehensively before choosing, for example, the sort of the material, needed information, vacuum compatible, conductivity and sample planning, etc.


  1. Microscopy and Analysis. [Online] http://www. microscopy-analysis. com/.
  2. Reflected Light Microscopes. [Online] http://reflectedlightmicroscopes. com/.
  3. Wikipidia. Optical microscope. [Online] http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/optical Microscope.
  4. W. Richard Bowen, Nidal Hilal. Atomic make microscopy in process executive : introduction to AFM for much better processes and products. 2009.
  5. Geoff Western world, John Bates, David Ross, D Grandy, J Perkins. MPP242 Microscopy Handouts. Loughborough: The office of materials, 2009.
  6. Peter J. Goodhew, Richard Beanland, John Humphreys. Electron microscopy and research. s. l. : Taylor & Francis Ltd, 2000.
  7. The Royal Microscope socieity. [Online] http://www. rms. org. uk/.
  8. Brent Fultz, Wayne Howe. Transmitting electron microscopy and diffractometry of materials. 2008.
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