Encyclopedia of Geoarchaeology

2017 Edition
| Editors: Allan S. Gilbert

Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)

  • Ellery FrahmEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4409-0_25


Scanning electron microscopy. A form of microscopy in which a focused beam of accelerated electrons is scanned across the surface of a specimen, generating a number of signals that yield information about its morphology, elemental composition, and, when outfitted with appropriate detectors, crystalline microstructure or other features.

SEM. Scanning electron microscopy or microscope. This acronym is often used interchangeably to describe the imaging/analytical technique and the instrument itself.

SEM in geoarchaeology


SEM is a highly versatile imaging and microanalytical technique that has been used throughout the archaeological sciences for almost five decades (e.g., Pilcher, 1968; Brothwell, 1969). Most instruments are equipped for two primary functions: imaging (commonly at high magnifications) and providing compositional (i.e., elemental) information. Instruments can also be outfitted with detectors that offer additional information, such as the crystalline...
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Minnesota-Twin CitiesMinneapolisUSA