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The capabilities of the scanning electron microscope (SEM continue to grow. An understanding of and competency in operating the SEM is a vital asset to researchers in many fields. Acquiring the practical knowledge demands considerable training, which is expensive in terms of instrument time and personnel resources. Moreover confined laboratory environments severely limit the number of operators who can be trained simultaneously.
An alternative training approach is to develop software simulations. For example, the Interactive Microscope Laboratory simulates the optical microscope as part of a computer-based teaching resource for school-level biology courses. The VSEM (Virtual Scanning Electron Microscope) project extends our earlier work on emulating the operation and behaviour of the SEM and combines it with a virtual reality model of the instrument. The aim of the VSEM project has been to develop a microscopy teaching application which can be deployed on multiple platforms without the need for expensive hardware or software support facilities.
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