• SEM-microphotogrammetry, a new take on an old method for generating high-resolution 3D models from SEM images

      BALL, AD; JOB, PA; WALKER, AEL (Wiley, 2017-03-22)
      The method we present here uses a scanning electron microscope programmed via macros to automatically capture dozens of images at suitable angles to generate accurate, detailed three‐dimensional (3D) surface models with micron‐scale resolution. We demonstrate that it is possible to use these Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) images in conjunction with commercially available software originally developed for photogrammetry reconstructions from Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras and to reconstruct 3D models of the specimen. These 3D models can then be exported as polygon meshes and eventually 3D printed. This technique offers the potential to obtain data suitable to reconstruct very tiny features (e.g. diatoms, butterfly scales and mineral fabrics) at nanometre resolution. Ultimately, we foresee this as being a useful tool for better understanding spatial relationships at very high resolution. However, our motivation is also to use it to produce 3D models to be used in public outreach events and exhibitions, especially for the blind or partially sighted.