Digital position determination system for electron microscopy

Microsc Res Tech. 2005 Jun 1;67(2):106-11. doi: 10.1002/jemt.20196.


The precise determination of object positions within a specimen grid is important for many applications in electron microscopy. For example, real-time position determination is necessary for current statistical approaches and the efficient mapping and relocation of objects. Unfortunately, precise real-time position determination is not available on many older electron microscopes with manual stage controls. This report demonstrates the cost-effective and flexible implementation of a digital position determination system that can be adapted to many hand-operated electron microscopes. A customized solution that includes the hardware and software to accomplish position determination is presented. Lists of required parts, instructions for building the hardware, and descriptions of the developed programs are included. Two LED-photodiode assemblies detect x and y movements via an optical wheel that is in physical contact with the mechanical x and y stage control elements. These detector assemblies are interfaced with an integrated circuit that converts movement information into serial port-compatible signals, which are interpreted by a computer with specialized software. Two electron microscopes, a Philips CM12 (S)TEM and a Philips 201 TEM, were equipped with the described digital position determination system. The position fidelity and position fidelity after reloading of grids were determined for both microscopes. The determined position deviation was 1.06 microm in the x axis and 0.565 microm in the y axis for the Philips CM12 (S)TEM, and 0.303 microm in the x axis and 0.545 microm in the y axis for the Philips 201 TEM. After reloading and computational realigning, the determined average position variation was 2.66 microm in the x axis and 2.61 microm in the y axis for the Philips CM12 (S)TEM, and 1.13 microm in the x axis and 1.27 microm in the y axis for the Philips 201 TEM.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Electronics
  • Equipment Design
  • Microscopy, Electron / instrumentation*
  • Software*