How Electron Microscopy Works & How We Save You Time & Money

Excedr - Electron Microscopes

Excedr’s lease program can source all instrument types and accommodate any brand preferences your end-user might have despite the diversity in types. Request an electron microscope lease estimate today and see how leasing your next scanning electron microscope can simplify equipment procurement and budget management.

All equipment brands/models are available

The Advantages of Excedr’s Electron Microscope Leasing Program:

  • Eliminates the upfront cost of purchasing equipment by spreading its cost over time
  • Minimizes equipment downtime with included complete repair coverage and preventive maintenance
  • Takes advantage of potentially 100% tax deductible* payments, providing you significant cash-savings
  • Expedites the administrative work needed for instrument procurement and logistics
  • Conserves working capital,  enabling you to reinvest in your core business and operations (staffing, inventory, marketing/sales, etc.)
  • Accommodates all manufacturer and model preferences

*Please consult your tax advisor to determine the full tax implications of leasing equipment.

a microscope, an ocular lens, and microscopic image next to each other

Microscopes are some of the most common and well-known scientific instruments around. They are used to make small objects, invisible to the human eye, easier to see. 

There are several different classes of microscopes. However, the most common way to categorize these devices is based on what interacts with the sample, be it light (or photons), electrons, or a probe. These classes are referred to as optical, electron, and scanning probe microscopes, respectively.

That said, you often see microscopes categorized according to the wavelength used to magnify an image as well. Common wavelengths include visible light, ultraviolet light, x-rays, and electrons. For example, if a microscope uses visible light to illuminate a sample, it’s typically referred to as a light microscope. If fluorescence is used, the microscope is referred to as a fluorescence microscope.

The most common types used across laboratories today are light microscopes, or optical microscopes, which utilize visible light, along with a series of lenses, to achieve magnification. 

Electron microscopes, which employ beams of electrons as the light source, often serve as an alternative to light microscopes because, compared to visible light, electrons have significantly shorter wavelengths. Around 100,000 times shorter, to be more exact. 

The use of shorter wavelengths increases resolving power and magnification, allowing for extremely high resolution of objects too small to be seen by standard microscopy methods like light microscopy. For this reason, electron microscopy is a powerful tool in several fields and industries where highly detailed imaging is required to understand a biological or nonbiological sample’s ultrastructure (fine structure, especially within a cell, that cannot be seen with standard light microscopes). 

Areas within the life sciences that rely on electron microscopy include structural biology, drug discovery and development, materials science, microelectronics, nanotechnology, and forensics science.

Electron Microscopy Techniques, Types, & Costs

a hand holding an ocular lens

Electron microscopes use electron-optical lens systems to obtain high-resolution images of biological and non-biological specimens. An electron gun is used to aim and release the electron beam towards the sample, which must be kept in a vacuum-sealed chamber. The beam is then controlled and focused at a specific location using electrostatic and electromagnetic lenses. 

Electron microscopes suffer from poor contrast despite their numerous benefits, so staining is often used to achieve better clarity. Various electron microscope types provide different functions. They have been used to open up new fields of study in nanotechnologies and more. We’ll cover the most common types below.

Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM)

Using transmission electron microscopy to obtain an image, a TEM is one of the most frequently used types of electron microscopes. Its main components include:

  • An electrical optical column
  • A vacuum system
  • The electronics necessary to focus and deflect the electron beam (as well as generate the beam)
  • Imaging devices
  • Electrical Optical Column

This column houses an electron-beam generator, or what is commonly referred to as an electron gun. It acts as an electron source and is typically a tungsten filament cathode. The beam generator is typically connected to a condenser system that is used to focus the electron beam onto the object for imaging and analysis.

Vacuum System

Since electrons are tiny and easily deflected by hydrocarbons or gas molecules, it is necessary to use the electron beam in a vacuum environment. When electrons are in a vacuum, they behave like light.

Different vacuum pumps are used to create and maintain vacuum pressures as low as 10–8 Pa (atmospheric pressure). These pumps include rotary, oil diffusion, turbomolecular, and ion getter pumps.

Furthermore, many airlocks and sep­aration valves are used to avoid the need to evacuate the whole column every time a specimen or photographic material or a filament is exchanged.

Image Producing System

The image-producing system of a TEM is made up of electromagnetic lenses that typically consist of coils. When an electric current is passed through these coils, an electromagnetic field is created between the pole pieces, creating a gap in the magnetic circuit. By varying the current through the coils, the strength of the field and lens power can be varied.

In general, a TEM consists of three lensing stages: condenser lenses, objective lenses, and projector lenses. The condenser lenses are responsible for forming the electron beam generated by the electron gun, and the objective lenses focus the beam. Lastly, the projector lenses expand the beam onto a viewing screen with a phosphor coating, or other imaging devices, such as a digital camera (e.g., charge-coupled devices (CCDs).

A TEM’s magnification is due to the ratio of the distances between the specimen and the objective lens’ image plane.

Imaging Devices

Image recording was traditionally performed using a fluorescent viewing screen that emitted light when impacted by the transmit­ted electrons, which provided real-time imaging. A film camera was used to record permanent images.

Modern TEMs, on the other hand, rely on digital imaging devices, such as CCD (charge-coupled device) cameras to capture and record images. Some models may still include a viewing screen.


Most other types of electron microscopes, such as scanning electron microscopes (SEMs) and scanning transmission electron microscopes (STEMs), have the same main components as a TEM:

  • Electron source
  • Electromagnetic lenses to focus and direct the electron beam
  • Electron apertures

Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM)

SEMs are the second most common type of electron microscope and are used to look at the surface layer of nanoscale objects.

In this technique, a beam of electrons is scanned across specific areas on the surface of a sample to produce an image. This particular scanning technique is referred to as raster scanning.

Unlike TEM, where the electrons go through the sample, scanning electron microscopes have electrons bounce off the material’s surface. These electrons are called secondary electrons, and a screen is placed precisely to catch them as they come off the specimen.

The electron gun shoots the beam at the subject, and a series of electromagnets move the beam back and forth over its surface until the entire surface has been scanned. The results are commonly referred to as SEM images, and they show, in high-resolution detail, a sample’s surface composition and topography.

Though the image may have less resolution than TEM, SEM sample preparation time is much shorter.


Scanning Transmission Electron Microscope (STEM)

A subtype of TEM, scanning transmission electron (STEM) microscopes rely on electrons passing through a thin sample.

In scanning transmission electron microscopes, the electron beam is focused into a fine point, around .05-.2 nanometers, before it is scanned over the entire object. Electron signals are collected point by point until a complete image of the surface is constructed.

Also unique to scanning transmission electron microscopes is the aberration corrector. This serves to correct the electron signal’s aberrations that occur due to them going through electromagnetic lenses. In short, it increases the resolution and clarity of the image. An electron energy loss spectrometer then analyzes the electrons. It examines the energy that the electrons lose when they bounce off the sample.


Environmental Scanning Electron Microscopes (ESEM)

A subtype of scanning electron microscopes, environmental scanning electron microscopes differentiate themselves by being able to image both uncoated and wet specimens. This is important because it allows for samples to be viewed in their natural environment without much prior preparation.

Most ESEM procedures are the same as scanning electron microscopy. However, key differences exist in electron detection, beam transfer, and environmental condition management.

Of particular note in ESEM is a differential pumping system and gaseous detection device that are used. The differential pumping system provides a high vacuum environment for the electron beam column but leaves a separate high-pressure specimen chamber. Gaseous detection devices are employed to amplify the detection of secondary electron signals by utilizing gas ionization.


Reflection Electron Microscope

Unlike TEM and scanning electron microscopes, reflection electron microscopes do not analyze the transmission or the secondary electrons; instead, they look to analyze electron scattering. Electron scattering occurs when electrons bounce off of objects but do not lose any energy in the process.

This technique is commonly coupled with reflection high energy electron diffraction and reflection high energy loss spectroscopy.


The Development of Cryo-EM

In 2017, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to researchers Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank, and Richard Henderson “for developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution.” Their developments allowed electron microscopes to view biological material without damaging or drastically altering it.

Previously due to the powerful electron beams required for electron microscopy, any biological material being viewed would need to be dead. Joachim Frank developed the general method in the 1970s and 1980s, and Jacques Dubochet was able to image biological samples in water in a vacuum without the water evaporating. Finally, Richard Henderson proved the technology’s potential by imaging a 3D rendering of a protein on the atomic scale.

These innovations have had a severe impact on the study of biological materials. For example, in the 2010s, cryo-EM was employed to understand the Zika virus outbreak in Cambodia better.


Real-Time Transmission Electron Microscope Leases to Fit Every Need

an ocular lens and eyepiece tube with a microscopic image displayed

Electron microscopes are incredibly powerful analytical tools used by those in the materials, pharmaceuticals, biotechnological, or biomedical industries for a number of reasons, most notably R&D and quality control (QC). 

If you currently use or plan on using electron microscopy in your lab, and have an interest in leasing  a TEM, SEM, or STEM, we can help. 

Purchasing one can be financially challenging, and leasing through Excedr minimizes those challenges. Our leases are designed to erase exorbitant upfront costs, spread payments out of months (making cash flow management simple), and protect the equipment from unexpected downtime.  

Whatever your leasing needs, be it an electron microscope or X-ray microscope, let us help. Additionally, we lease a wide variety of lab equipment, so if you’re interested in a mass spectrometerbioreactor, or liquid handler, let us know.

Get in touch with us and we’ll discuss your equipment financing needs in detail. Or, if you know which electron microscope you’d like to lease, request a lease estimate today and begin the approval process.

Operating Lease

This off-balance sheet financing structure provides three options at the end of the term. The lessee has the option to return the equipment to the lessor, renew at a discounted rate, or purchase the instrument for the fair market value. Monthly payments are also 100% tax deductible which yields additional monetary savings.


If you recently bought equipment, Excedr can offer you cash for your device and convert your purchase into a long-term rental. This is called a sale leaseback. If you’ve paid for equipment within the last ninety days, we can help you recoup your investment and allow you to make low monthly payments. This also frees up money in your budget rather than tying it down to a fixed asset.

Electron Microscope Manufacturers & Models
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Thermo Fisher:
Prisma E, Quattro ESEM, Apreo, Verios XHR, VolumeScope, Glacios Cryo-TEM, Themis S S/TEM, Themis ETEM, Metrios,Talos F200i, Talos L120C, Talos F200X, Talos F200S, Talos Arctica, Talos F200C, nProber III System, Scios 2 DualBeam, Aquilos Cryo-FIB, V400ACE, OptiFIB Taipan, Phenom Pharos, Phenom XL, Phenom ProX, Phenom Pro, PHenom Pure, Phenom GSR, VolumeScope 2, Metrios AX S/TEM, Krios G4 Cryo-TEM, Helios G4 PFIB HXe DualBeam, Phenom ParticleX AM, Phenom ParticleX TC, Phenom XL G2

Helios G4 PFIB HXe DualBeam, Helios G4 PFIB UXe FIB/SEM*, Helios G4 PFIB UXe DualBeam, Helios G4 PFIB CXe DualBeam FIB/SEM*, Helios G4 PFIB CXe DualBeam, Helios 5 Laser PFIB, V400ACE, OptiFIB Taipan, Vion

3View, GeminiSEM, Sigma Family, Sigma 300, Sigma 500, MultiSEM, MultiSEM 505, MultiSEM 506, EVO Family, EVO 10, EVO 15, EVO 25, ParticleSCAN VP, Crossbeam Family, Crossbeam 340, Crossbeam 550

Ion Microscope:

SU9000, Regulus series, SU7000, SU5000, SU3500, FlexSEM 1000, FLexSEM 1000 II, TM4000, TM4000Plus, HF-3300, HF5000, H-9500, HD-2700, HT7800 Series, NX5000, NX9000, NX2000,SU3800, SU3900, NX5000, NX9000, NX2000

Atomic Force Microscope:
AFM5100N, AFM5300E, AFM5500M

NeoScope JCM-6000Plus


Atomic Force Microscope:
Dimension XR, Dimension Icon, Dimension FastScan, Dimension FastScan Bio, Dimension FastScan Pro, Dimension Edge, Dimension Edge PSS, Dimension Icon-Raman, MultiMode 8-HR, Innova, BioScope Resolve, BioScope Resolve, Innova Iris, InSight CAP, InSight AFP


InTouchScope series, JSM-IT500HR InTouchScope, JSM-IT500 InTouchScope, JSM-IT200InTouchScope, JSM-7900F, JSM-7610FPlus, JCM-7000 NeoScope, JEM-1400Flash, NEOARM, ARM200F, JEM-F200 F2, JEM-2200FS, JEM-2100Plus, CRYO ARM200, JSM-F100, JEM-ARM300F, CRYO ARM300

JIB-4700F, JIB-4000PLUS

SNE-3200M, SNE-4500M, SNE-4500M Plus,

NT-MDT Spectrum Instruments:

Atomic Force Microscope:


Atomic Force Microscope:
alpha300 A

Scanning Near-Field Optical Microscope (SNOM):
alpha300 S


Atomic Force Microscope:
CoreAFM, Flex-Axiom, Flex-Bio, NaioAFM

Scanning-Tunneling Microscope:

Fluidic Probe Microscope:


Pemtron Corp.:
PS Series

Seron Technologies:

And more!


Operating Capital Benefits

Operating Capital Benefits

Excedr's operating lease structure allows you to keep your business credit line open for expansions, staffing, and other operational expenses. Additionally, it strengthens the cash flow of your business and keeps cash reserves free for business development opportunities.

Effects on Credit

Effects on Credit

Leasing / renting provides you with non-dilutive financing and does not hinder your future borrowing ability. You're able to acquire the equipment you need without the baggage associated with traditional financing.

Speed of Approval

Speed of Approval

Excedr's program allows you to respond quickly as your need for equipment and technology arises. You can be approved with minimal documentation and have the equipment you need in operation and generating revenue for your business quickly.

Refurbished Equipment

Refurbished Equipment

Unlike traditional financing and leasing companies, the Excedr program can accommodate refurbished equipment in addition to demo units. If you are looking for additional cost-savings, we recommend considering this option.