Scanning electron microscopy
A conservation scientist examining a sample using a scanning electron microscope
The scanning electron microscope (SEM) produces detailed images at a higher magnification than a light microscope. We use the SEM in conservation to study the surface of materials, and the effects of different conservation treatments. The SEM can also be used to identify the elements present in a sample. An X-ray detector measures the characteristic X-rays produced by the interaction of the electron beam with the sample.
Click on the thumbnails below to see a sample being placed in the SEM chamber and some images produced by a scanning electron microscope.
Watch the video below to see how a scanning electron microscope works.