Environmental Scanning Electron Microscopy (ESEM)
Image of the surface of a flower
In SEM specimens are usually prepared by fixation followed by critical point drying, and coating with gold, these procedures however are unsuitable for delicate surface structures. Instead the technique of ESEM in which the specimen is examined at a pressure close to ambient and in the presence of water vapour can be used, allowing examination of the specimen in a close to native state. This technique is used for the study of cell/matrix interactions in tissue engineering, pharmaceutical compounds, watery structures such as mucins, and for the study of botanical specimens.