Transmission electron microscopy

Transmission electron microscope (TEM) uses high energy electron beam to form high resolution images of objects in the nanoscale. If the beam passes through the sample, TEM produces highly detailed images of their internal structures. The method is widely used in material science, microbiology and nanotechnology.

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Basic principle of transmission electron microscopy is similar to ordinary optical microscopy. Instead of light TEM uses a transmitted electron beam that penetrates the sample. Because the electrons have  smaller wavelength than light, the formed image has a lot higher resolution compared to traditional light microscopy. Final image is highly detailed and it shows the internal structures of the sample. In some cases it is even possible to distinguish individual atoms.

With TEM it is possible to study inner biological structures. This includes all kinds of microbes and viruses. For example, TEM is used to study flagellates or cell structures. 

Electronics industry and nanotechnology laboratories use TEM to examine thin film materials. TEM is commonly used to search for imperfections, failures and impurities. 

TEM is used in electron diffraction to determine the crystal structure of solid samples. TEM can reveal crystallographic orientations. The high accuracy is achieved by using electron diffraction methods.

Method has some drawbacks. Sample must be electron transparent, this means that sample thickness must be 100 nm or less. Larger samples can be  processed to fit the requirements. Samples are also vulnerable to radiation damage from the electron beam.

Suitable sample matrices

  • Materials in the nanoscale
  • Nanoparticles
  • Viruses and microbes
  • Parts of semiconductors
  • Carbon nanotubes, graphenes and other carbon nanomaterials
  • Thin film coatings
  • Cellulose nanofibers

Ideal uses of TEM

  • TEM is used in electronics manufacturing for failure analysis.
  • TEM is a microanalytical method that produces highly accurate images for the field of material science.
  • It can be used to study inner parts of microbes and viruses at an ultrastructural level.
  • Determining particle shape and size of nanoparticles.
  • Determining the location of catalyst particles in the carrier.
  • Imaging cellulose nanofibers.
  • Imaging carbon nanotubes, graphene and other carbon nanomaterials.

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Frequently asked questions

What is TEM commonly used for?

TEM is mainly used in the fields of electronics and nanotechnology, it is also used in microbial research.

TEM produces high resolution pictures of thin films for uses of quality control and fault finding.

What are the limitations of TEM?

Some materials do not last the high energy electron beam.

Sample must be thin and therefore it limits the observation thickness of the sample to 100nm.

What is Measurlabs?

Measurlabs offers a variety of laboratory analyses for product developers and quality managers. We perform some of the analyses in our own lab, but mostly we outsource them to carefully selected partner laboratories. This way we can send each sample to the lab that is best suited for the purpose, and offer high-quality analyses with more than a thousand different methods to our clients.

How does the service work?

When you contact us through our contact form or by email, one of our specialists will take ownership of your case and answer your query. You get an offer with all the necessary details about the analysis, and can send your samples to the indicated address. We will then take care of sending your samples to the correct laboratories and write a clear report on the results for you.

How do I send my samples?

Samples are usually delivered to our laboratory via courier. Contact us for further details before sending samples.