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Low Voltage Electron Microscopy: Principles and Applications by Natasha Erdman, David C. Bell

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Chapter 4

The Application of Low-Voltage SEM—From Nanotechnology to Biological Research

Natasha Erdman1 and David C. Bell2

1JEOL USA Inc., USA

2School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, USA

4.1 Introduction

The idea behind nanotechnology is simple: exploit the properties of the nanoscale for the macroscopic world in which we live. Historically, nanomaterials have been with us a long time we just didn't know them as such. The discovery of various nanomaterials was only made possible by electron microscope observation. Although the attribution of who was first remains a debated issue, Sumio Iijima's report in 1991 (Iijima, 1991) is important because it brought carbon nanostructures to the awareness of the whole community. The ability to image carbon, a low atomic number material, is after all an impressive feat, which has led to the imaging of fullerenes and most importantly graphene, which has a potential to become “the new silicon” for future electronics devices. Microscopy has played an integral role in characterization of nanomaterials, and often provides invaluable insight into the structure-properties relationship.

In the last decade there has been a quantum leap in the ability of the SEM to observe nanomaterials with ultra-high resolution and exceptional surface detail, in particular employing low-voltage SEM. Improvements in objective lens optics with smaller chromatic and spherical aberration coefficients, ability to deal with charging specimens via ...

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