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What is an Electronic Microscope?

Harry Husted
Harry Husted

The electronic microscope is a scientific instrument that uses a beam of highly charged electrons to examine objects at close range. When using the microscope, also called an electron microscope, you can see the surface features of any object. There are other microscopes that work like an electronic microscope, but none with such intensity.

When you examine an object under an electronic microscope, you are able to see the finest detail about it including features and properties you would normally not see, even at close range with your own eyes. You will see the elements and compounds the object is made from. You will even be able to see the atoms of the object and see them in motion.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

The first electronic microscope was invented in Germany in 1931 by Max Knoll and Ernst Ruska. The electron microscope was developed as a replacement to the light or optical microscope, which has its limitations. A light microscope focuses the surrounding light through a lens to magnify a sample, only allowing for a magnification of 500x or 1000x, with a resolution of 0.2 micrometers. It was because of this limitation that the electron microscope was necessary. The electron microscope allowed scientists to magnify an object up to 10,000 times its size.

The electron microscope works the same way as the optical microscope. The only difference is the electron microscope doesn't use light; instead a beam of focused electrons are used to create the image of the specimen. This also gives scientists information about the object's structure and composition.

When an object is placed at the base of the electron microscope and the scope is turned on, a stream of electrons are formed and move toward the object. Metal apertures and magnetic lenses are used to confine and focus the electron beam. When the electrons hit the object, interactions begin to happen inside the object. Any movement inside is captured by the microscope, recorded, and transformed into an image.

Electron microscopes were created to work just like optical microscopes so they would not need to be intricately designed. This also allows researchers to learn to use the microscope more quickly. By using the electronic microscope, doctors, scientists, or anyone who needed to examine objects or specimens, can do so in minute detail.

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