Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Don A. Gregory

Committee Member

Jessica Gaskin

Committee Member

James Miller

Committee Member

Massimiliano Bonamente

Committee Member

Brian Robinson


Scanning electron microscopes.


This investigation is in the area of electrostatic lens design with the overarching goal of contributing to the creation of a miniaturized scanning electron microscope (SEM) for use in mineralogical analysis or detection of signs of life on the surface of Mars. Such an instrument could also have application in the exploration of Earth's moon, planetary moons, asteroids, or comets. Other embodiments could include tabletop or field portable SEMs for use on Earth. The scope of this research is in the design of a beam column that attains focusing, demagnification, and aberration control within the smallest achievable package. The goals of planetary exploration and of spaceflight in general impose severe constraints on the instrument's mass and electrical power consumption, while favoring a robust design of small size and high rigidity that is also simple to align. To meet these requirements a design using electrostatic lenses was favored because of the lower power requirement and mass of electrostatic versus magnetic lenses, their relatively simple construction, as well as inherently easier shielding from extraneous fields. In modeling the lens field, a hybrid of a Boundary Element Method (BEM) and a Fourier series solution was employed, whereby an initial solution from the BEM is used to derive the bounding potential of a cylindrical subdomain for the subsequent Fourier series solution. The approach is applicable to many problems in physics and combines the inherent precision of this series solution with the flexibility of BEM to describe practical, non-idealized electrode shapes. The resulting lens field in the Fourier series subdomain is of higher precision, thereby allowing smaller errors in subsequent calculations of electron ray paths. The effects of aberrations are thus easier to observe in tracing non-paraxial rays. A significant speed increase in tracing rays is also observed. The modeling technique has been validated by reproducing example ray-traces through simple, known lenses, with the result discussed in this dissertation. Throughout the work, an emphasis is kept on the assessment of lens performance through direct ray-tracing outside the paraxial limit. Some effort nevertheless went toward the use of paraxial methods for estimating first order optical properties and aberrations of lens designs prior to a full-on ray-trace analysis.



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