The image is striking: a tiny insect, magnified 10,000-fold, looms like a giant alien from a science-fiction movie, with terrifying talons and mandibles ready to devour the world. Thank the scanning electron microscope for the fascinating impression.
Scanning electron microscopes, or SEMs, enlarge objects up to one million times. But what makes their images so captivating is that they accurately portray the object's surface with resolutions finer than 100 angstroms. They can also indicate which atomic elements make up the sample.
This article was originally published with the title Fine Focus.