The scanning electron microscope (SEM) is an important research and production tool extensively used in many phases of industry throughout the world. The popularity of the instrument results from the need to inspect and obtain information about samples with ever-decreasing structure. The SEM provides higher resolution analysis and inspection than that afforded by current techniques using the optical microscope. Furthermore, unlike the optical microscope, the SEM offers a wide variety of analytical modes, each contributing unique information regarding the physical, chemical, and electrical properties of a particular specimen, device, or circuit. The SEM is now finding increased applications in research and production quality control because of recent developments that eliminate or at least minimize sample damage and contamination, enabling continuous nondestructive in-process inspection.
Chapter in: Handbook of Charged Particle Optics, Jon Orloff, Editor