Recent advances in cameras and computers have made it possible to build electron backscattering pattern (EBSP) cameras which can give crystallographic information from diffraction patterns in the scanning electron microscope (SEM) on a routine basis. There are a few hundred such systems world wide and the number is growing fast. In the case of crystalline samples (nearly all applications of SEM outside the biomedical field), it will surely soon be considered essential to fit an SEM with an EBSP system, just as it is now considered essential to have the SEM equipped with an energy-dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDS) system. There are at least four commercial manufacturers of EBSP systems. In the next few years, then, I anticipate that many owners of existing SEMs as well as buyers of new instruments will be faced with the problem of selecting an EBSP system. This paper presents some of the issues involved in making such a choice.
As in many technical decisions, different people will have different needs and put different priorities on the specifications to be met. An instrument which is to be used to do repeated analyses of aluminum for beer cans will have different needs from a system used mostly to teach crystallography, and those will be different in turn from the needs of a system used to determine which phases are present in geological samples.