Spring has sprung in Flatbush, which means insects of all sorts are emerging from the ground looking for things to eat and places to live. Two weeks ago, a group of ants managed to squeeze their way into the Research Room. They seemed especially fond of the water in the saucers under our potted plants. I managed to capture one of these intruders using a piece of double-sided graphite tape.
Good conductivity means low static charge build up. The software running the SEM directs a scanning electron beam to specified positions on the sample at specified times and reads the intensity of the scattered electrons. Static charges deflect the scanning beam (since like charges repel). When the scanning beam is pointed at the wrong place at the wrong time, the resulting image is distorted.
Today’s subject made good, full body contact with the graphite tape. Its small size meant every part of it was close to something conducting. Charge had a hard time collecting on our small friend here, which resulted in nearly distortion free images even at high magnification. Small is better.
Image credit: Glenn Elert