Sample Embedding and Mounting
Chapter 4 considered the different ways a sample may be attached to the stage of the microscope. This chapter is an extension to the process of attachment and primarily considers the procedures we need to firmly hold the sample if we want to measure and analyze the inside of a specimen. At first glance, the term embedding, which implies to enclose something closely, is a contradiction of terms for the SEM that aims to image and analyzed exposed specimens. However, an alternate definition for embedding is to make something an integrated part of the whole, and this is precisely what we do when we embed sample for the SEM. There are two forms of embedding, or mounting, as it is sometimes referred to in the material sciences.
The embedding media, usually a liquid, must first thoroughly infiltrate a permeable specimen before it hardens to form a solid matrix. This is what we do with most biological materials that are not sufficiently firm to be cut to reveal...