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Scanning electron microscopy in forensic science

Scanning electron microscopy in forensic science

H200/0049

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Credit

DR JURGEN SCRIBA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR JURGEN SCRIBA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Forensic science. A forensic scientist uses a scanning electron microscope (SEM) to study light bulbs taken from cars involved in a crash. In some respects the lightbulbs are more reliable than eyewitnesses. The scientist can establish whether the lights were on when the crash took place by examining tiny spots of molten metal left from the bulb's filament. The SEM (cylinder on the left) scans the surface of the sample with a beam of electrons. The scattered electrons are detected and amplified to form the image, which is displayed on a computer screen. The SEM works at magnifications of x30 to about x40,000 - far higher than a conventional light microscope.

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