“The importance of resolution” or “Why I want a field emission gun on my SEM”

Results from some recent experiments:

First look with our regular Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) (not too bad piece of an equipment)
– “Hmm… pretty nice”
SEM

Well, I had a suspicion there is something more than what it looks like, so we brought the samples to an SEM with a field emission gun:
– “Wow! Just wow!”
FE SEM

The images show a Ca-rich plagioclase (lower, homogenous part in the picture), which was reacted with a Na-Si rich fluid and produced a complex reaction structures (upper, heterogenous part). The middle part that looks like a butterfly actually consist of tiny micrometer-sized garnet (grossular) grains.

Also note how homogenous the area in the red circle looks under a regular SEM, while the SEM with a field emission gun reveals that it is actually a very fine intergrowth between 2 different minerals.

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