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The Scanning Electron Microscope allows to get strongly magnified images of the surface of thick samples and to analyze their composition.

An electron beam is focused on the surface of the sample that then emits other electrons and X-rays. The detection of these secondary electrons allows deducing the topography while the X-rays analysis gives information about the chemical composition.

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A field emission scanning electronic microscope used for the observation and microlitography of nanostructures.
(B. Rajau, Phototheque CNRS)