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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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Ceratocorys horrida

Just this year the SEM Lab purchased a fully motorized stereo microscope allowing researchers to overcome the lack of depth of field typically encountered in light optics. It is used it to capture a stack of images -one at a time at each focal plane. Software then combines the individual image planes into a single image retaining only the focused portions of each image the stack. The results are impressive, allowing us to image larger samples through a greater focal range than would otherwise be possible with a standard light microscope. The images of fossilized teeth depicted to the right depict this capability.

Another useful feature is the ability to capture a tiled series of images. When stitched together the images form a single high resolution image of the sample. In practice the researcher simply defines the sample limits on the stage and with a click of a button the imaging software takes control capturing an array of images. This array is subsequently stitched together to provide the final image. See the images of the chondritic meteorite, otherwise known as a chondrite, to the right as an example.

Soon we will link the two functions together allowing high resolution, fully focused images.

Capturing a stack of images at each focal plane. Only a portion of the object is in focus in each image.
Capturing a stack of images at each focal plane. Only a portion of the object is in focus in each image.
Software then combines the image stack into one fully focused image.
Software then combines the image stack into one fully focused image.
Using the imaging software and a motorized stage researchers can overcome limits on the field of view and provide highly detailed images of larger specimens too big or delicate to be imaged with the SEM. The software takes control of the microscope stage snapping images as the sample, in this case a chondritic meteorite, is moved about.
Using the imaging software and a motorized stage researchers can overcome limits on the field of view and provide highly detailed images of larger specimens too big or delicate to be imaged with the SEM. The software takes control of the microscope stage snapping images as the sample, in this case a chondritic meteorite, is moved about.
The fully assembled tiled image of the meteorite. This link will take you to a page where you can zoom in and see different sections of the sample in greater detail. See if you can find the seams.
The fully assembled tiled image of the meteorite. This link will take you to a page where you can zoom in and see different sections of the sample in greater detail. See if you can find the seams.

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