How does an electron microscope work? Check Jeol JSM T200

Ben Krasnow, from Applied Science, created his own electron microscope a few years back, but now he received a gift: a Jeol JSM T200 that was used in the 80s. What is an electron microscope? It is a microscope that relies on electrons instead of light to capture high detailed images of very small things.

A regular microscope relies on visible light that is between 390 and 700 nm, but you get a magnification of max 1000x. With an electron microscope like Jeol JAM T200 you get a magnification up to 100 000x, but the technology can go up to 20 000 000x, because the electrons have a wavelength 100 000 times shorter than the visible light.

A simple thing to remember: the smaller the information carrier (light, electrons), the highest the resolution.

Jeol JSM T200 was created in the 80s, but still can offer 100k magnification, which is pretty impressive. Ben Krasnow explains how you can see a video feed of the microchip he used for testing and how you can get high-res images in 10 or 60 seconds. He uses a Tektronix MDO3104 oscillocope to gather the info from the electron microscope and then export a CSV file with data points. The CSV is then interpreted using Octave, an open-source Mathlab alternative. As a side note, I used Mathlab in college where I learned aerospace engineering, and that thing can crush skulls. Literally 😀

Once Ben Krasnow has the data in Octave he can compute it and then get the hi-res image. It is stunning how some wave functions from the electrons that were detected can result in such an incredibly detailed image. Electron microscopes rock the microscope world (well, the scanning tunneling microscope has a resolution 100 times better than electron microscope, at 0.1 nm, so almost rocks the microscope world).

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