scanning electron microscope
scanning electron microscope (SEM)
A microscope that operates by scanning a finely focused beam of electrons
across the specimen. The reflected electron intensity is measured and displayed on a cathode-ray screen to produce an image. The SEM enables magnifications of up to 100 000 times to be made and provides a much better depth of field than a conventional light microscope (which suffers from focus limitations), making the three-dimensional structure of small objects (e.g. Foraminiferida
) spectacularly visible. In geology it is used extensively for micropalaeontology
, diagenetic studies (see DIAGENESIS
), and grain
textural examination. When coupled with an electron
probe, semi-quantitative determinations of grain chemistry can be made.
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