2009-05-15

A single image from a scanning electron microscope has a โ€œlightingโ€ effect in the direction of the electron beam. Rotating the stage effectively casts the specimenโ€”here a sample of lichenโ€”in lighting from different directions:

scanning electron microscope images of lichen from several angles

Rotating and aligning the images makes this clearer:

scanning electron microscope images of lichen from several angles, rotated to align as an image stack

This presents a fun opportunity. In theatrical lighting, a subject might be lit by multiple colors from different angles for dramatic effect. By artificially coloring and combining the above, the same effect can be imitated for the microscope:

false-color scanning electron microscope image of lichen