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The first North American electron microscope was constructed in 1938, at the University of Toronto, by Eli Franklin Burton and students Cecil Hall, James Hillier, and Albert Prebus.Siemens produced a transmission electron microscope (TEM) in 1939.
Electron microscopes are used to investigate the ultrastructure of a wide range of biological and inorganic specimens including microorganisms, cells, large molecules, biopsy samples, metals, and crystals.
Industrially, electron microscopes are often used for quality control and failure analysis.
Biological tissue specimens are chemically fixed, dehydrated and embedded in a polymer resin to stabilize them sufficiently to allow ultrathin sectioning.
Sections of biological specimens, organic polymers, and similar materials may require staining with heavy atom labels in order to achieve the required image contrast.
Creating these thin sections for biological and materials specimens is technically very challenging.