Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)
SEM work is not only our major work tool, but it is our "eye" to view on these extremely tiny critters. Even more, it is the only method to visualize the material. Light microscopy yields no results at all. One can see specimens, which are brownish and shiny, but details cannot be seen.
The specimens are monitored starting with overview magnifications of 20-100 and then going into detail even up to 10.000 times magnification. At this magnification the granular phosphatic surface contrast and resolution hinder nice views, but finest pores of 1-2 µm or setulae of 0.2-03 µm in diameter can be documented.
SEM also allows to tilt and by this to create a series of shots at different angles. Combined, one yields a, more or less, smoothely running movie. You can see an example on the "running projects" page, andother on the page "finished projects", and here's another one of Agnostus pisiformis. The head shield is missing so that one views into the turning trunk shield with some trunk limbs preserved.
The Center of Electron Microscopy has built a special tilting and rotation unit for us, which permits tilting of 90 degrees. This helps us much in re-scanning old specimens of which we have only overviews.