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I'm trying to understand how an electron microscope works

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  1. Jun 16, 2011 #1
    I know an electron microscope can collect x-rays emitted by electron holes, backscattered electrons as well as secondary electrons. I get that an electron's wavelength is much smaller than a photons, thus you get finer image resolution, but how exactly does a shorter wavelength mean a finer resolution? I know the photon's longer wavelength causes it to "overlook" finer details, but how exactly does a wave "overlook" something?

    How does a wavelength interact with a physical surface to cause this? I could see this making more sense if i treat a wave as a particle oscillating in space and, when fired down vertically, hits a steep surface horizontally and reflects off into a detector... but I dont think that's what really happens. And if you treat an electron as a wave, how do you end up with backscattered electrons?

    I guess what im really saying is I dont know how to bridge the gap between the electron's wave-like nature and its physical counterpart.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 16, 2011 #2

    Drakkith

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    Staff: Mentor

    The effect is similar to how a low pitch sound will travel around objects better than a high pitch one will. However a particle isn't just a simple wave, it is a wave packet. In a manner similar to how a sound wave can bounce off an object, particles can bounce off objects they cannot pass through as well.
     
  4. Jun 16, 2011 #3
    Ah, so a single electron particle is a gaussian wave packet... which is an amalgamation of many waves put together, which constitutes a particle. And an electron's matter wave properties come out when it's forced into a slit smaller than the size of it's wave packet?
     
  5. Jun 17, 2011 #4

    Drakkith

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    Staff: Mentor

    Umm...yeah let's just go with that. (I think you know more about waves and such than I do it seems like)
     
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