The standard SEM image displays the surface of an object only as a two-dimensional flat picture. But a new device just introduced by Microphotonics Skyscan produces 3 dimensional images that reveals the internal 3D microstructure of an object without requiring any sample preparation.
The microCT module attaches to any SEM in place of a standard sample stage. The device consists of an x-ray anode, an x-ray camera and a high precision sample rotation stage. The MicroCT works in exactly the same way as a laboratory or medical tomography system. The high energy electron beam of the SEM is used to produce x-rays from the anode which then pass through the sample and are collected by the camera. A series of discrete X ray images of the object are recorded at different angles by rotating the sample in small steps. These ‘shadow projections’ are combined in the software to produce a complete 3 dimensional interior picture of the sample.
The resultant data can be displayed as a full 3D image of the sample’s structure or as virtual slices or sections through any plane or ‘cut’ of the sample. Special volumes of interest can be designated and linear and angular measurements can be made within the structure. The software provides a rich 3 dimensional viewing environment with a wide range of presentation options including rotation, change of viewing angle, and 3D animation. The magnification is variable and typically can resolve down to 800 nm.