electron microscopy



The Electron Microscopy Site

Aim |Problems + solutions | EM at ETH | Further information


Aim of this Website

Since the first transmission electron microscope was built in 1931, much progress has been made in improving instruments and methods for exploring the micro and the nano world. Today, electron microscopy comprises a wide range of different methods that use the various signals arising from the interaction of the electron beam with the sample to obtain information about structure, morphology and composition. The goal of this site is to explain the basics of most electron microscopy methods in a qualitative way, i. e. without giving much insight into the complex theory and mathematics that underlie them. Thus, reading these pages can in no way substitute the study of textbooks.


How to find a solution to your problem

The method that is needed is determined by the question to be solved:


  • (High-Resolution) Transmission Electron Microscopy ((HR)TEM)
  • Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy (STEM)
  • Electron diffraction (ED)


  • Energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDXS)
  • Electron Energy Loss Spectroscopy (EELS)


  • Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)

Elemental mapping



Electron Microscopy at ETH Zurich

Of course, not all investigations can be done with just one microscope. Because of that, there is a pool of different electron microscopes at the ETH Zurich at the Campus Hönggerberg, available for all members of the Scientific Center for Optical and Electron Microscopy (ScopeM). A comprehensive introduction into theory and praxis will be given each fall term in the lecture Electron Microscopy in Materials Science.


Further information

Of course, only a rudimentary description of the different electron microscopy techniques can be given on this site. If you want to gain more comprehensive knowledge about the fascinating world of electron microscopy, there is a lot of information available in printed form.
Moreover, a vast amount of information is hidden somewhere on the web: a few, possibly helpful links to selected electron microscopy sites are given on these pages, and many more can be found at the Microscopy & Microanalysis server, at the Microscopy and Analysis page, at
www.microscopy.info, or at the homepage of the DGE (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Elektronenmikroskopie) to mention just a few.
A very illustrative, animated explanation of how a TEM works is the TEM basics page of Goodhew's Matter project (University of Liverpool).

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ETH Zürich | ETH chemistry department | ETH inorganic chemistry

modified: 6 February, 2015 by F. Krumeich | © ETH Zürich and the authors