Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

B How does electron microscopy exploit wave/particle duality?

  1. Oct 24, 2016 #1
    I have been researching wave/particle duality, and I have trouble comprehending how electron microscopy actually exploits wave/particle duality to operate.

    From Wikipedia, "
    • Wave–particle duality is exploited in electron microscopy, where the small wavelengths associated with the electron can be used to view objects much smaller than what is visible using visible light.
    Noted is the "small wavelengths associated with the electron" to achieve a much higher resolution than light, but why wavelength and not the very small size of the electron? What role does the wavelength (or just the concept of it acting as a wave) play in this? Is this implying that electron microscopy would not have existed if not for the discovery of wave/particle duality for matter (DeBroglie wavelengths, etc.)?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 24, 2016 #2


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    First, there is no "particle/wave duality." This is an outdated concept. Electrons are quantum particles and therefore behave as QM objects. The "wave" character comes from the fact that the Schrödinger equation is a wave equation. (That said, the de Broglie wavelength still gives information about the size of the possible interference effects observed.)

    There is a recent thread discussing electron microscopy: https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/electron-vs-photon-question-significance-of-momentum.890315
  4. Oct 24, 2016 #3

    Try googling the Rayleigh Criterion which is generally used to calculate resolving power. The width of the central maximum of a diffraction pattern is proportional to (wavelength)/(width of aperture) so to get a narrow pattern and high resolution the aperture width needs to be large and/ or the wavelength needs to be small. Electrons can be prepared so as to have small wavelengths and so high resolutions can be achieved.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Draft saved Draft deleted