Microscopist Liz Girvan discusses the benefit of using SEM – exceptional three-dimensional depth – as well as a few of its limitations.
The SEM probably gives you the best depth of field out of any microscope, so you end up with something that looks really, really three dimensional, just as it would in real life.
Some of the limitations of the SEM are the high vacuum we work at. That means that we can’t have a sample that has any moisture in it in the SEM, unless it’s been treated carefully.
Probably the resolution is a limitation. Some people might want to look at things like viruses, which are very, very tiny. With the current technology of SEMs, we can’t quite get down to that resolution.
Liz Girvan, University of Otago