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February 8th, 2011

Cure for the winter blues: SEM images of snowflakes

Published on February 8th, 2011 | By: pwray@ceramics.org

We’ve reported in the past on the incredible magnification powers of scanning electron microscopes. An SEM is a type of electron microscope that images the sample surface by scanning it with a high-energy beam of electrons. The electrons interact with the atoms that make up the sample producing signals that contain information about the sample’s surface topography, composition and other properties such as electrical conductivity.

Scientists at the Electron Microscopy Unit of the USDA’s Beltsville Agricultural Research Center in Maryland have posted images of snowflakes taken with an SEM. It’s clear what they say is true: No two snowflakes are alike.

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