Applications of scanning electron microscopy and focused ion beam milling in dental research

Krystal L. House, Long Pan, Deirdre M. O'Carroll, Shiyou Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The abilities of scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and focused ion beam (FIB) milling for obtaining high-resolution images from top surfaces, cross-sectional surfaces, and even in three dimensions, are becoming increasingly important for imaging and analyzing tooth structures such as enamel and dentin. FIB was originally developed for material research in the semiconductor industry. However, use of SEM/FIB has been growing recently in dental research due to the versatility of dual platform instruments that can be used as a milling device to obtain low-artifact cross-sections of samples combined with high-resolution images. The advent of the SEM/FIB system and accessories may offer access to previously inaccessible length scales for characterizing tooth structures for dental research, opening exciting opportunities to address many central questions in dental research. New discoveries and fundamental breakthroughs in understanding are likely to follow. This review covers the applications, key findings, and future direction of SEM/FIB in dental research in morphology imaging, specimen preparation for transmission electron microscopy (TEM) analysis, and three-dimensional volume imaging using SEM/FIB tomography.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12853
JournalEuropean Journal of Oral Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)


  • cross-sectional studies
  • dental enamel
  • dentin
  • three-dimensional imaging


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