Standard Article

Electron Techniques, Introduction

Electron Techniques

  1. Stephen J. Pennycook

Published Online: 12 OCT 2012

DOI: 10.1002/0471266965.com080.pub2

Characterization of Materials

Characterization of Materials

How to Cite

Pennycook, S. J. 2012. Electron Techniques, Introduction. Characterization of Materials. 1.

Author Information

  1. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Materials Science and Technology Division, Oak Ridge, TN, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 12 OCT 2012


Electrons are highly versatile probes of materials because they are first, easily accelerated, second, readily focused by electromagnetic fields and third, they interact strongly with matter. At low energies they interact with materials surfaces, while at high energy they can probe the bulk (at least the interior of a thin specimen). In addition, at high energies they have very short wavelengths, for example, 3.7 pm when accelerated to 100 kV, and, given atomic spacings in materials are 100 – 200 pm, in principle fast electrons are easily capable of providing atomic resolution images. Electrons also lose energy to atomic excitations, bringing another plethora of spectroscopic techniques for analysis of surfaces and bulk compositions and electronic structure. This chapter provides overviews of the key methods developed to exploit these characteristics of electrons to probe the structure, composition and chemical bonding of materials, their internal microstructure and the nature of their surfaces and interfaces.


  • electron techniques;
  • introduction