Scanning Electron Microscopy

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Local application

In this laboratory, we use the scanning electron microscope for high resolution surface topographical study of mainly, though not exclusively, biological specimens.

Bulk samples much larger than those used for transmission electron microscopy, whole flies for example, may be routinely prepared and imaged.  The large depth of field achievable can produce an image of great visual depth with a three-dimensional appearance.

The operating environment of a standard scanning electron microscope dictates that specialist preparation techniques are used.  Typically, a specimen is chemically fixed, dehydrated through an acetone or ethanol series and then dried at the critical point - a method used to minimise specimen distortion due to drying tensions.  For dry samples, this process is not necessary.  The samples are mounted/orientated on a stub of metal, coated with 40 - 60 nm of metal - often, but not always, gold and then observed in the microscope.

The samples shown above are (clockwise from top left) an ant (Lasius flavus), passion fruit (Passiflora caerulea) pollen, a  freshwater shrimp parasite (Epistillis sp.), sunflower (Helianthus anuus) pollen and central, a greenbottle (Lucilia sericata) foot.

 

Major equipment 
Hitachi S3000H Scanning Electron Microscope
Bal-Tec Critical Point Drying Apparatus
VG Microtech Sputter Coater

Quorum Q150T ES coating unit

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