Digital position determination system for electron microscopy

Martin F. Hohmann-Marriott, William P. Sharp, Robert Roberson, Robert E. Blankenship

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The precise determination of object positions within a specimen grid is important for many applications in electron microscopy. For example, real-time position determination is necessary for current statistical approaches and the efficient mapping and relocation of objects. Unfortunately, precise real-time position determination is not available on many older electron microscopes with manual stage controls. This report demonstrates the cost-effective and flexible implementation of a digital position determination system that can be adapted to many hand-operated electron microscopes. A customized solution that includes the hardware and software to accomplish position determination is presented. Lists of required parts, instructions for building the hardware, and descriptions of the developed programs are included. Two LED-photodiode assemblies detect x and y movements via an optical wheel that is in physical contact with the mechanical x and y stage control elements. These detector assemblies are interfaced with an integrated circuit that converts movement information into serial port-compatible signals, which are interpreted by a computer with specialized software. Two electron microscopes, a Philips CM12 (S)TEM and a Philips 201 TEM, were equipped with the described digital position determination system. The position fidelity and position fidelity after reloading of grids were determined for both microscopes. The determined position deviation was 1.06 μm in the x axis and 0.565 μm in the y axis for the Philips CM12 (S)TEM, and 0.303 μm in the x axis and 0.545 μm in the y axis for the Philips 201 TEM. After reloading and computational realigning, the determined average position variation was 2.66 μm in the x axis and 2.61 μm in the y axis for the Philips CM12 (S)TEM, and 1.13 μm in the x axis and 1.27 μm in the y axis for the Philips 201 TEM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)106-111
Number of pages6
JournalMicroscopy Research and Technique
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2005


  • Digital position determination
  • Electron microscope stage
  • x and y axes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology
  • Instrumentation
  • Medical Laboratory Technology


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