Free SEM Images! Where do I sign up?

February 16, 2010

Scanning electron microscopes are hardly what I’d call a ‘household item’, but it doesn’t mean you don’t have the opportunity to use one! ASPEX is providing any and everyone the chance to see their favorite mundane objects under the powerful magnification afforded by SEMs with their ‘Send Us Your Samples’ campaign.

Some of you may be asking, “Erin, what the heck is a scanning electron microscope, why do I even need to know, and just what does it have to do with me?’

Great question! Unlike most pictures we are used to viewing, the SEM uses electrons to capture images instead of light. The image we get to see is built up from the number of electrons emitted from each spot on any given sample. (Fun fact folks: Electrons are cobalt blue! Neat-o, huh?) The last time I got to use an SEM was as an undergrad in my biological imaging class. I had the privilege of taking some astounding pics of my favorite bugs. Really, insects of any kind look infinitely more fantastic and creepy using a scanning electron microscope. Where do you think Hollywood gets its inspiration for movie monsters?

Moldy Cheese – Before Moldy Cheese – After

So now we are all super stoked to see our hairbrushes and chocolate chip cookies scanned with an incredibly powerful tabletop SEM, right? Well…how do we do it? EASY! Simply download and print this form from the ASPEX website. Fill it out and send it along with the sample you’d like scanned to:

ASPEX Corporation
Free Sample Submissions
175 Sheffield Dr.
Delmont, PA 15626

Once ASPEX has finished the scan, the images and report will be posted here on ASPEX’s website. The results should be up in about two weeks, and they will notify all submitters by email when you can see your before and after images. Make sure you can part with what you send in as samples will not be returned!

Your everyday objects will be transformed into alien landscapes. Don’t believe me? Try looking up scanning electron micrographs of pollen. The images truly speak for themselves, but what kind of blogger would I be if I didn’t bury you in a deluge of graphic and evocative descriptions?! I’ll limit myself to one short example – no, it’s not the mold in delicious, delicious blue cheese, it is the common flea. This mighty jumper may surprise you when you meet him up close and personal. You might just find out that fleas have mustaches to rival even the likes of Tom Selleck and Burt Reynolds, the mustache greats.

This opportunity is perfect for educators, students, fun loving families, and all inquisitive folks in general! So grab your cat toys, the dried fly that is undoubtedly stuck in your window sill, your old toenail clippings, or anything else you want to see uber-mega-ultra close up and send it in! All for free, courtesy of ASPEX. Want to see more? Check out the SEM Image Gallery for some incredible examples!

Toy Bunny Before Toy Bunny After

Erin C
Authored By Erin Crouch

As a Youth Education Marketing Coordinator, Erin is responsible for keeping the 20 districts to the North of Houston informed about everything going on at the Museum. She also works booths at various conferences to help promote HMNS to educators. She is crazy about all things entomological, loves working with special needs children, and is always involved in some sort of creative endeavor.

8 responses to “Free SEM Images! Where do I sign up?”

  1. burt reynolds says:

    I don’t appreciate your comments about my mustache. I’ve sent in a few samples to ASPEX to prove to the world that there’s nothing crazy going on in there …

  2. norsborn says:

    Wow! this is an amazing offer. i think these scans would make some really cool artwork…

  3. Kate A says:

    “Where do you think Hollywood gets its inspiration for movie monsters?” That an amazing hypothesis!

    I’m not sure what I’d send in…any suggestions?

  4. Jim says:

    This is a great idea! I never would have thought a company could make microscopes sexy. I am going to send in my old cell phone. I can’t wait to see how this turns out.

  5. Cassie says:

    Toy bunny! This is great.

  6. Firstaka says:

    Thanks for the info. I’m going to send them some things!

  7. Josh says:

    Crazy how the bunny looks like spaghetti under the microscope. Very cool article, I think I’m going to submit spaghetti to see if it looks like a bunny.

  8. Megan says:

    I think I’ll submit some fresh cheese. And hope it’s not moldy when it gets there to see how different the 2 images look!

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