Detection modes

  • Optical Microscope
  • Fluorescence
  • Electron detectors
  • EDX & CL
  • µRaman
  • AFM


The open architecture and modularity of the airSEM™����imaging station provides the ideal infrastructure for concomitant imaging in a multitude of imaging channels.

The imaging station, in its basic form, has two imaging axes: the optical microscope axis and airSEM™ imaging axis. Modalities added to the imaging station can share a common imaging axis with either of the two microscopes. Alternatively, an added modality may form an additional, separate, imaging axis on the platform.

Examples include: µRaman spectroscopy – sharing its imaging axis with the optical microscope, a Cathodoluminescence detector – sharing its imaging axis with the airSEM����� and an AFM integrated on the imaging station to form a third axis.

These modalities are not mutually exclusive and may materialize together on an airSEM�������  imaging station.

Optical Microscope

In its basic form, the imaging station optical microscope takes the form of a standard white light reflectance microscope.

However, the airSEM™ imaging station supports the majority of commercially available light microscope types, including transmission and phase contrast.

The sample, which can take the form of a standard optical-slide, can be seamlessly translated between the imaging modalities.

In the airSEM™ imaging station, the optical microscope functions both for navigation and region of interest designation for later airSEM™ imaging.


Epi-fluorescence capabilities can be added to the optical microscope to enable imaging of functional biological sites. Such capabilities are instrumental in linking biological function, detected via fluorescence markers, to structural morphology, as imaged by electron microscopy.

In some cases epi-fluorescence is insufficient and a Confocal fluorescence microscope is desirable.

The integration of a confocal microscope into theairSEM™ imaging station is underway.

Electron detectors

airSEM™  supports a multitude of electron detection modes. A high-efficiency BSE detector highlights material contrast, while a proprietary Surface Detector restores information generally associated with Secondary Electrons detectors in vacuum SEMs.

Imaging with the two detectors can be performed simultaneously. In addition, airSEM™  is capable of generating high-resolution transmission images in its airSTEM  mode.


The airSEM™  imaging station platform supports extension of the data channels beyond imaging. Energy Dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) has already been integrated in the system, and enables both acquisition of a local spectrum and the capture of an elemental map. Integration of a Cathodoluminescence spectrometer can be implemented.


Integration of a µRaman spectrometer, supporting the identification of organic molecules by way of their characteristic spectral fingerprint, can be implemented. The µRaman spectrometer can be simply combined with the optical microscope already present on the airSEM™ imaging station. It expands the material characterization capabilities of the imaging station beyond quantitative elemental analysis, which is available with the EDX detector.

In addition, the good registration between the different optical axes allows correlations between the chemical composition of a defined region and its morphology.


AFM and airSEM™ can provide complementary information on the nano scale. Having the sample not in vacuum implies that AFM measurements better represent real life cases