Transmission imaging on a scintillator in a scanning electron microscope

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Large area electron microscopy (EM) imaging has long been difficult due to fundamental limits in throughput for conventional electron microscopes. New developments in transmission electron microscopy and multi-beam scanning electron microscopy (MBSEM) imaging have however made it possible to generate large EM datasets [1,2,3]. This article describes a transmission imaging technique that is suitable for a MBSEM as it allows for a relatively straightforward way of separating the signals generated by each beam. The technique places a thin (50nm-200nm) tissue section directly on top of a coated scintillator. The electrons that are transmitted through the section generate light in the scintillator which is collected by a high NA objective and imaged onto a photon detector. This article gives a model for the contrast-to-noise (CNR) and signal-to-noise (SNR) ratio that is to be expected for this imaging technique. These parameters were calculated using Monte-Carlo simulations. It was found that the CNR increases when decreasing landing energy and SNR increases with increasing landing energy. These two trends cause that there is an intermediate energy where imaging performance is best. The energy of this optimum was calculated for various levels of heavy metal staining, section thickness, coating material, coating thickness and light collection efficiency. The model was verified experimentally on a synthetic sample.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113055
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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