Scanning Microscopy


The use of lower energy (0.5 to 10 keV) electron beams in the scanning electron microscope (LVSEM) provides a number of advantages in the imaging of materials, including increased topographic contrast and reduced specimen charging. Application of LVSEM to materials analysis was difficult in the past due to a number of instrumental difficulties, including low gun brightness, the increased effect of chromatic aberration upon lower energy beams, and the increased sensitivity of such electron beams to stray fields. Improvements in design have led to commercial instruments which provide the microscopist with the capability to analyze materials in this low-energy regime. LVSEM has been applied to the analysis of a variety of specimens, all of which would have proven quite difficult or impossible by "classical" higher-energy (15-35 keV) SEM. Examples discussed include an ion-implanted cemented carbide, a surface-modified glassy carbon electrode, a semiconductor (III-V) layered structure, and a macroscopic polymer crystal.

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