The scanning electron microscope (SEM) provides us with an intimate view of a microscopic world much smaller than the one we can see with conventional optical microscopes, which rely on the photons of visible light. Instead, the remarkably crisp, clear, three-dimensional quality of SEM images results from a process in which a beam of electrons shoots down through a stack of electromagnetic lenses onto a specimen held inside a vacuum chamber below. Electrons given off by the interaction between the beam and the specimen are electronically processed to recreate a faithful monochromatic image of the sample's surface on a monitor in real time. The sample can be moved to present different views, and the amount of magnification can be adjusted by zooming in and out. A photo - technically an electron micrograph - can be taken at any time. A variety of graphics techniques can be applied later to add color and/or other aesthetic enhancements. No structures are changed in these images, only their artistic expressions.
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