Electron microscopes (EM) allow tiny structures to be made visible like a gigantic magnifying glass - right down to individual atoms! They are now standard in biology and materials research, for example.

High Resolution - Huh?


Electron microscopes do not use a beam of light like conventional microscopes, but a beam of electrons.


Electrons have a wavelength up to a million times smaller than light - and the smaller the wavelength, the higher the resolution.


This makes it possible to recognize the atomic structure of a substance - that is, to decode structures that are only a few nanometers in size.


Ernst Ruska and Max Knoll present the first electron microscop.
Ruska will bei awarded the Nobel Prize for this in 1986.

Shining through and scanning

There are two main types: transmission electron microscopes transmit an electron beam that "shines through" the object. In a scanning electron microscope, the beam scans the surface.


What is Jülich doing?

The Ernst Ruska-Centre (ER-C) operates state-of-the-art electron microscopy. Jülich researchers use them for biology, energy research and materials research. They also improve equipment and methods.

Illustrations: Diana Köhne

Issue 2-2023
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Last Modified: 16.02.2024