I suppose the answer depends on resolution and imaging area, but can you provide some ball park measures of imaging times with an SEM?

  • $\begingroup$ Milliseconds? In modern systems I have seen real-time movements being shown on screen. Do you need a precise estimate for high-speed imaging? $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Commented Dec 9, 2013 at 8:47
  • $\begingroup$ I was wondering because I am currently looking into AFM where the scan time is more on the order of minutes, so I was just wondering if SEM was similar. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 9, 2013 at 8:53
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ In SEM you usually use a fast noisy scan mode (>10 Hz frame rate) for navigation and tuning, and then to take the pretty picture you might do a 1 minute scan. Even then it's much faster feeling than AFM because navigation in AFM is painfully slow. $\endgroup$
    – Nanite
    Commented Dec 9, 2013 at 12:51

1 Answer 1


It's been a decade since I last used an SEM, but back then you would start using a fast scan that was real time i.e. you could move the sample around, change focus, etc and see the effect in real time. However the realtime image is noisy because the numbers of electrons being captured is small. Once you had the picture you wanted you would record them image using a much slower scan to reduce the signal to noise. From memory this took a couple of minutes.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.