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American Institute of Physics



Book Review

Scanning Electron Microscopy and X-Ray Microanalysis, 3rd ed.
Joseph I. Goldstein, Dale E. Newbury, Patrick Echlin, David C. Joy, Charles E. Lyman, Eric Lifshin, Linda Sawyer, and Joseph R. Michael
Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, New York, 2003
689 pp.
ISBN 0-306-47292-9

Reviewed by Anatoliy Bekrenev

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Scanning Electron Microscopy coverSince its inception 70 years ago, the scanning electron microscope (SEM) has evolved from a simple instrument of limited use, with a resolution of about 50 nm, into a computer-equipped tool with a resolution of about 1 to 5 nm and a wide range of applications. Today, the SEM is a universal and multiuse instrument in physics, crystallography, metallurgy, biology, chemistry, and advanced technology.

The SEM is one of the most versatile instruments available for the examination and analysis of the structure (including surface topography, crystallography, and composition) of heterogeneous organic and inorganic materials on a nanometer to micrometer scale. One of its most important recent developments is the variable-pressure SEM, which allows one to examine the surfaces of almost any specimen, wet or dry, because a high-vacuum environment is no longer needed. It also allows direct observation of chemical reactions in situ, enabling a new class of dynamic experiments.

The interaction of the electron beam with the sample produces secondary electrons, backscattered electrons, characteristic X-rays, and continuum X-rays. Images appear three-dimensional because of the large depth of field of the SEM as well as the shadow relief effect of the secondary and backscattered electrons. Three-dimensional images allow direct and high-resolution stereo viewing of surfaces. An analysis of the characteristic X-radiation emitted from samples can yield both qualitative and quantitative elemental information from an area 1 µm in diameter and 1 µm in depth under normal operating conditions. Modern energy-dispersive spectrometers are capable of detecting characteristic X-rays of all elements above atomic number 4.

The authors of Scanning Electron Microscopy and X-Ray Microanalysis provide a comprehensive introduction to this field, describing the basics and user-controlled functions of SEM imaging and X-ray spectrometry. The user-controlled functions include electron-beam/specimen interactions, image formation and interpretation, high-resolution imaging, surface imaging at low voltage, variable pressure and environment, qualitative and quantitative stereomicroscopy, electron backscatter patterns, and metrology. Special X-ray microanalysis deals with layered specimens, particle and rough surfaces, light-element analysis, low-voltage microanalysis, beam-sensitive specimens, and compositional mapping. The authors also describe procedures for sample preparation, especially of solids, coatings, polymers, and biological and hydrated materials.

Scanning Electron Microscopy and X-Ray Microanalysis is a clear and instructive introduction to this field for students in physics and materials science, as well as for practicing specialists (microscope operators and analysts) who use these methods on advanced materials and in conjunction with advanced technologies. One weakness of the book, however, is that to better understand the capabilities and limitations of scanning microscopy, it would be useful to analyze its role and place among other types of microscopy (light microscopy, X-ray microscopy, transmission microscopy, scanning tunneling microscopy, atomic-force microscopy, and so on). Unfortunately, the authors do not do this. Well written, with many useful micrographs of various objects and X-ray spectra, this book is a good general guide to the field of scanning electron microscopy and X-ray microanalysis.

Anatoliy Bekrenev is a professor of physics at National American University (Bloomington, Minnesota). He is currently researching the structure of materials subjected to pulse reactions, using electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, and microanalysis.