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Scanning electron microscope

the most powerful microscope ever made East Anglia,

Large metal instruments and bank of computers fill a room.
Scanning electron microscope, 1965. Science Museum/ Science and Society Picture Library

In the 1950s and early 1960s Charles Oatley (1904-1996) and his group at the Engineering Laboratories at the University of Cambridge developed a microscope able to image the surface of tiny samples at high-resolution.

Their scanning electron microscope (SEM) used electrons rather than light to produce strikingly detailed images of solid surfaces. Electrons reflected from the surface of samples produced 3-dimensional images at much higher magnifications than was possible with a traditional light microscope.

By 1965 the first commercially available version of their SEM, the Stereoscan, was produced by the Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company. 

Today scanning electron microscopes are routinely used in hospitals, laboratories, and high technology manufacturing and are produced by companies around the world. 

Royal Academy of Engineering

East Anglia
University of Cambridge
Key Individuals
Charles Oatley,