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Electron Microscopy for Materials Characterization

The course provides an introduction to analytical electron microscopy (AEM) as applied to materials chemistry studies, in particular nanomaterials.


The course covers the experimental techniques of:

  • Scanning electron microscopy (SEM)
  • Transmission electron microscopy (TEM)
  • Scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM).

This provides a detailed description of the electron microscope instrumentation while also teaching the fundamental physics of the image formation.

Various electron diffraction, imaging, and sample preparation techniques are presented and discussed, and the practical knowledge necessary to perform these methods and interpret the results are taught.

The course also provides a brief overview of two widely-used spectroscopy techniques: energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) and electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS). Emphasizing how they can be used to obtain information about the electronic structure and chemical composition on length scales ranging from micrometers (SEM) down to the atomic level (STEM).  

Real-world applications of the various EM techniques for characterization of different types of sustainable materials and nanoparticles are presented in lecture and lab form.

  • Course structure

    Expected learning outcomes, theory

    The student is expected to be able to:

    • Explain the basic principles of how transmission electron microscopes (TEMs) and scanning electron microscopes (SEMs) are designed and work
    • Propose suitable sample preparation methods for EM studies
    • Interpret electron diffraction patterns and the contrasts of different types of EM images
    • Propose appropriate EM techniques to hold structural information and chemical composition of a material.

    Expected learning outcomes, lab

    The student is expected to be able to:

    • Explain the principles of SEM, TEM, STEM, electron diffraction, EDS and EELS experiments and their sample preparation
    • Report the use of SEM, TEM, STEM, electron diffraction, EDS and EELS, interpret results and draw conclusions about what structural information and / or chemical composition they provide about the studied material.


    Theory, 4 ETCS

    Lab, 3.5 ECTS

    Teaching format

    The teaching consists of lectures, laboratory work and exercises.


    Theory - written exam
    Lab - lab reports and presentations


    Xiaodong Zou

  • Schedule

    The schedule will be available no later than one month before the start of the course. We do not recommend print-outs as changes can occur. At the start of the course, your department will advise where you can find your schedule during the course.
  • Course reports

  • Contact

    Course coordinator
    Chemistry Section & Student Affairs Office