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Virtual Research

Virtual Scanning Electron Microscope

VSEM screenshotScanning electron microscopes were first developed by Charles Oatley in the Department of Engineering in the early fifties. They are now routinely used in laboratories the world over, as a means of looking at materials at very high magnifications.

However the cost of these instruments is still relatively high. With this in mind, David Holburn's Scientific Imaging Group includes a research team led by Bernie Breton which is devising a Virtual Scanning Electron Microscope, capable of all the functions of a real one, that can be accessed by anyone with a computer.

"This will have tremendous value in terms of teaching. Not only will it allow schools the facility to 'use' a scanning electron microscope, but it also has great potential for the training of existing users to an advanced level," explains Bernie. "Pilots today are trained on simulators, and the same idea can be used to train people to use these complex and expensive microscopes."