Name that mystery SEM sample, win a prize

by Stephanie Chasteen on November 30, 2009

A while back I blogged about a cool opportunity to get anything (yes, anything!) scanned on a Scanning Electron Microscope. Posted from the ASPEX website, here is a toy bunny, macrosize, and microsize:

Though how anyone could give up that cute wittle bunny is beyond me.

You can still send them samples (which I just think is so cool, and would be a great class activity), and they’ve just started a Name that Sample contest. The first correct answer wins a USB stick.  Here’s this week’s image:

They’ve already got a bunch of comments on there — go ahead, give it a shot!  This could be a good exercise in size and scale.  This is magnified 110X, and the whole thing is about 1000 micrometers across, or 1 millimeter.  So, the first guess on the site of “a blade of grass” is waaay off in order of magnitude (a blade of grass is probably about 10 mm).  Besides, it doesn’t even look like a blade of grass to me.  It also says that “Carbonaceous phases would be represented in darker tones where as Metallic features would be displayed in brighter tones.”  So perhaps this is metallic?  Lots of people have guessed that it’s some sort of adhesive being pulled apart.  But I’m not so sure that that “stretching” is actually dynamic.  SEM requires time to take, so whatever it is, it has to be sitting still while the image is being taken.  And the features are so regular…

{ 3 comments }

Captain Skellett November 30, 2009 at 1:07 pm

Verrrry interesting… will have to go take a guess. Adhesive was the first thing that came to mind for me as well

DNLee November 30, 2009 at 6:40 pm

the edge of a sheet of paper.

sciencegeekgirl December 1, 2009 at 10:02 pm

The answer, it turns out, was a post-it note!
There’s a new one every week, check it out.
So, you were close DN!

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