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Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) has unique capabilities for analyzing fracture surfaces. This article discusses the basic principles and practice of SEM, with an emphasis on its applications in fractography. The topics include an introduction to SEM instrumentation, imaging and analytical capabilities, specimen preparation, and the interpretation of fracture features. SEM can be subdivided into four systems, namely, illuminating/imaging, information, display, and vacuum systems. The article also describes the major criteria and techniques of SEM specimen preparation, and the general features of ductile and brittle fracture modes.

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