Fun with the SEM (Scanning Electron Microscope)

So I've been pretty busy writing and grading papers (but mostly writing)! It's a busy time of year and so much is going on this semester. I've got some camping trips planned and also AAPA meetings are coming up in April. I am also extremely excited for the Scotland study abroad!! Until then...

This looks like the opening to a cave, but really it's a cavity. Ouch. That rope inside is some kind of very tiny fiber, it probably fell in and got attached to the cavity at some point during handling or storage.

I wanted to share these images from the visit our Bioarchaeology class had touring the SEM microscope at Dr. Harvey and Dr. Torabi's lab at TAMUCT. In order to make the visit relatable to the class, I sent in two samples which Dr. Torabi graciously agreed to process for us. One was a deciduous molar with a large cavity, and one was of an osteophyte located on a manual distal phalanx (translation: small bone projection on the tip of the finger bone). These images were taken with the mobile scanning electron microscope. We really enjoyed our visit and I hope you enjoy looking at these images. Here's what Dr. Torabi has shared with me about the lab:

 "Our primary focus is characterizing the electronic, photonic, and composition microstructure of photovoltaics. However, the same setup can do other semiconductor materials and  other areas like medical. Our primary system is a  SEM (Scanning electron microscope) with cathodoluminescence (CL), electron beam induced current (EBIC), and EDS capabilities. The goal is to correlate the luminescence (CL) and electrical (EBIC) properties with the composition and morphology of the microstructure. The CL is equipped with spectrometers able to quantify intensity and wavelength of the luminescence from 300-1800 nm. We also have a high end photoluminescence (PL) system with the same spectroscopic package."

It's neat to see bone so close up. This is a very small projection of bone (see scale) on the tip of the finger. Don't mind the bubble looking things in the background that is the carbon surface the bone is mounted on for the image.

I'm hoping to work with our SEM lab in the summer taking more images of bone samples. If you're wanting to contact the lab, you can email Dr. Torabi at atorabi (at) tamuct (dot) edu or Dr. Harvey at tharvey (at) tamuct (dot) edu. Check back in soon!


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