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Fig. 4. The prototype of the first Stereoscan supplied by the Cambridge Instrument Company to the du Pont Company, U.S.A. (Stewart and Snelling 1965)

At this stage Oatley persuaded Associated Electrical Industries (AEI) (formerly Metropolitan Vickers), a company then manufacturing both transmission instruments and electron probe microanalysers, to take an interest in the SEM. An understanding was reached that if the microscope appeared to be commercially viable, AEI would take it up. Later, in 1958, AEI received an order from Bowden, but for commercial reasons the instrument produced was based on their current production microanalyser, little use was made of the experience gained from the construction and operation of SEM3, and it was not successful. Bowden returned the microscope to AEI and later ordered a copy of the Pease-Nixon microscope from the Engineering Department. This ended AEI's attempt to enter the SEM market (Agar 1996; Brown et. al. 1996).

SEM3 was shipped to Canada in 1958 and used successfully by the PPRIC in their Montreal laboratories and by other companies which hired time on the instrument, including the du Pont chemical company of the USA. This, together with an accelerated flow of results from members of Oatley's Group - Nixon, Thornley, Stewart, Ahmed, Pease, and Broers - produced a change in attitudes towards the SEM as its advantages became better appreciated.

In 1961 Nixon and Smith made an informal approach to the Cambridge Instrument Company, suggesting that the Company should take up manufacture of the SEM as well as the microanalyser, which they were marketing at the time. Shortly afterwards Oatley reached a formal agreement with H C Pritchard, the managing director of the Company, and arrangements were made for the manufacture of two prototypes, one of which went to the du Pont Company (Fig. 4). In 1962 one of Oatley's former research students, A D G Stewart, joined the Company to take over development of the new SEM, and with Government backing, a batch of five microscopes was manufactured in 1965.

Oatley's 1982 paper, 'The early history of the scanning electron microscope', concludes with the following paragraph - a fitting testimony to his pioneering work:

The first four production models, sold under the trade name "Stereoscan", were delivered respectively to P R Thornton of the University of North Wales, Bangor, to J Sikorski of Leeds University, to G E Pfefferkorn of the University of Münster, and to the Central Electricity Research Laboratories. By this time the Company had launched a publicity campaign and orders began to roll in. An additional batch of twelve microscopes was put in hand; and then a further forty........The scanning microscope had come of age.



The author is grateful to Alan Agar, Bernie Breton, Paul Brown, David Holburn, Dennis McMullan, Tom Mulvey, Laurence Smith and Oliver Wells, for many useful discussions and for help in the preparation of the manuscript.


Agar A W 1996 The Story of European Commercial Electron Microscopes, in The Growth of Electron Microscopy, ed T Mulvey. Advances in Imaging and Electron Physics, 96 (London: Academic Press) pp 415-584

Brown P D, McMullan D, Mulvey T, Smith K C A 1996 On the origins of the first commercial transmission and scanning electron microscopes in the UK, Proc. Roy. Microsc. Soc. 31/2, 161

McMullan D 1988 Von Ardenne and the scanning electron microscope Proc. Roy. Microsc. Soc. 23/5 283

McMullan D 1995 Scanning Electron Microscopy 1928-1965, Scanning, 17, 175

Oatley C W 1931 The Theory of Band-pass Filters for Radio Receivers, Experimental Wireless and The Wireless Engineer, June 1931

Oatley C W 1932 Wireless Receivers (London: Methuen)

Oatley C W 1936a The Power-loss and Electromagnetic Shielding due to Flow of Eddy-currents in Thin Cylindrical Tubes", The Philosophical Magazine, 22, Ser. 7, 445

Oatley C W 1936b The Design of Eddy-Current Heating Apparatus for Outgassing Electrodes in a Vacuum, The Philosophical Magazine, 22, Ser. 7, 453

Oatley C W 1939 The Adsorption of Oxygen and Hydrogen on Platinum and the Removal of these Gases by Positive-ion Bombardment, Proc. Phys. Soc. 51, 318

Oatley C W 1972 The Scanning Electron Microscope (Cambridge: CUP)

Oatley C W 1975 The tungsten filament gun in the scanning electron microscope, J. Phys. E 8, 1037

Oatley C W 1981 Detectors for the scanning electron microscope, Jour. Phys. E.,14, 971.

Oatley C W 1982 The early history of the scanning electron microscope, J. App. Phys. 53(2), R1

Oatley C W 1983 Electron currents in the specimen chamber of a scanning microscope, J. Phys. E 16, 308

Oatley C W 1985 The detective quantum efficiency of the scintillator/photomultiplier in the scanning electron microscope, J. Microscopy 139, Pt. 2, 153

Oatley C W, McMullan D and Smith K C A 1985 The Development of the Scanning Electron Microscope, in The Beginnings of Electron Microscopy, ed P W Hawkes. Advances in Electronics and Electron Physics Suppl. 16 (London: Academic Press) pp 443-482

Sander K F 1951 An automatic electron trajectory tracer and contributions to the design of an electrostatic electron microscope, Ph.D. Dissertation, Cambridge University

Stewart A D G and Snelling M A 1965 A new scanning electron microscope, Proc. 3rd European Conference Electron Microscopy, Prague 55-56

von Ardenne M 1940 Elektronen-Übermikroskopie (Berlin: Springer)

von Ardenne M 1985 On the History of Scanning Electron Microscopy, of the Electron Microprobe, and of early Contributions to Transmission Electron Microscopy, in The Beginnings of Electron Microscopy ed P W Hawkes. Advances in Electronics and Electron Physics Suppl. 16 (London: Academic Press) pp 1-21


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