Scanning And Transmission Electron Microscopy On A Budget: 10 Tips

The scanning and transmission electron microscopy focuses on the two powerful microscopes available for research and analysis. One of them is the scanning electron microscope and transmission electron microscope. When combined, the Scanning and Transmission Electron Microscopy is formed and can be used for much more effective results. Both microscopes work on similar components i.e. electron beams. Both use the same component differently and provide suitable results based on the research. 

In this article, we are going to analyze 10 basic parameters to differentiate and understand the basic functioning and requirement of each one: 

#1. SEM Vs TEM: Key Difference 

The basic difference between the SEM and TEM is that the former creates an image by reflection of a beam of electrons and the latter one uses transmitted electrons to create an image. 

#2. SEM Vs TEM: Functional Difference 

This might seem to be a very common difference factor yet can change the whole scenario is the usage of electron microscopy. The environmental scanning electron microscope is more beneficial in providing the information on outer surface and composition while the transmission electron microscope can provide the inner surface details and information. 

#3. SEM Vs TEM: Working Principle  

Although electrons are major contributors to both, yet the principle makes all the difference in the world. The scanning electron microscope principle uses coils to scan the electron beam and collect the scattered electrons and the transmission electron microscope emits the same. 

#4. SEM Vs TEM: Targets Variable Surface Areas  

The SEM tends to provide the outer surface information and details. The transmission electron microscope is used to transmit the electrons instead of collecting the same. The electrons are passed through the surface and provide valuable information about the inner structure. 

#5. SEM Vs TEM: Analytical Difference

The analysis of both scanning and transmission electron microscope is fully dependent on what you want to perform. For instance, if the requirement is to detect the roughness or contamination of the specimen sample, the scanning electron microscope resolution is the preferred choice. But, if the requirement asks to detect the crystal structure of the specimen, the transmission electron microscope is the only way to do so with ease. 

#6. SEM Vs TEM: Operational Difference

Both electron microscope principles differ in the manner of operation as well. The environmental scanning electron microscope uses voltage up to 30 kV while the transmission electron microscope has a range of 60-300 kV. TEM has the potential of magnifying the specimen to 50 million times while this range for SEM is limited to hardly 2 million times. 

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#7. SEM Vs TEM: Usability Difference

In general, TEM has much more complex usability as compared to SEM. Proper training and study are mandatory to use the transmission electron microscope to complete operations. Some specialized measures and procedures should be performed before using the transmission electron microscope. The electron beam should be perfectly aligned to get high-quality results. 

#8. SEM Vs TEM: Combination

Apart from the separate electron microscopy, there is a chance to combine both TEM and SEM to get more enhanced and effective outcomes. It is known as STEM (Scanning And Transmission Electron Microscopy). It can be used and applied to both sorts of systems and the best results can be achieved. But, using it with a transmission electron microscope, the full capabilities can be exposed. 

#9. SEM Vs TEM: Price Difference 

The price factor is a major difference between the two technologies. While the scanning electron microscope can be out of budget for many laboratories, the transmission electron microscope is slowly making its mark with the cheap costs. The TEM microscope price is a major factor in influencing the researchers. How much an electron microscope costs is a very first query before choosing the electron microscope. 

#10. SEM Vs TEM: What to choose? 

It is evident from the above-mentioned details that none of the two techniques can be crowned as the winner here. It all depends on the requirement and analysis. While the TEM is suitable for extracting information from the inner surface, the SEM can be used to get the surface information easily. 


These are some of the key tips to choose scanning and transmission electron microscopy and make the right choice. Often, the laboratories remain in a hurry to purchase the electron microscope without diving into the depth and details and it leaves them with the wrong choice. 

With the above-mentioned difference and details, it must have been clear that both SEM (Scanning Electron Microscope) and TEM (Transmission Electron Microscope) have a separate set of functionalities and differences and can be used to research the variable sorts of specimen and details. Hopefully, the differences have been clear by now and the right choice can be easily done.