Environmental scanning electron microscopy

Represents a special variant of the scanning electron microscopy. A significant extension of uses compared to traditional REM is possible thanks to the possibility to work under higher pressure in the sample chamber. For this purpose, a siginifcantly more complex vacuum system and special detectors are required for different pressure areas.

An ESEM can be used in combination with a thermoelectric cooler for displaying humid and wet sample materials. Swelling tests of fibers and papers, wetting characteristics of surfaces as well as the examination of organic materials and polymer membranes, which are sensitive to dehydration in high vacuums and microscopable only through cryo techniques, are possible under a water vapor atmosphere. In addition, heating stages of up to 1350 °C can be used. Melting of metals and alloys, sintering of ceramic components, HALT tests on electric components under increased temperatures as well as the corrosion characteristics of surfaces can all be examined. If the ESEM has a large sample chamber, it can also  be fitted with a tension/pressure stage or with a in-situ ultramicrotom for a 3d reconstruction of soft materials (including soft metals).

Additional references:
Electron microscope
Electron microscopy
Transmission electron microscope


Schröttner H. : Die Elektronenmikroskopie in der Materialforschung / Electron Microscopy in Materials Research.
Rattenberger, J.; Wagner, J.; Schröttner, H.; Mitsche, S.; Zankel, A.:
A Method to Measure the Total Scattering Cross Section and Effective Beam Gas Path Length in a Low-VacuumSEM.
Schröttner, H.; Rattenberger, J.; Wagner, J.: Experimental vs. calculated values of the total scattering cross section and the BGPL of different image gases in an ESEM