What makes the difference between a good SEM image and a stellar one? Imaging samples at the appropriate conditions, and that often means at very low accelerating voltage (low kV). It's time to give it a try!
The benefits of low kV imaging include:
- There is less sample damage especially on biological or polymer samples,
- Nonconductive samples can be imaged without the need to apply a conductive metal or C coating which can totally obscure surface information,
- Thin or nanoscale surface structures that may be invisible due to beam penetration at high kV (surface sensitivity) are now easily visualized,
- The edge effect artifact which washes out edge, corner and surface contrast is dramatically reduced due to the small excitation volume ,
- Low kV also improves EDS and WDS spatial resolution for the same reasons as it does so for BSE imaging.