I wish I had a picture of what this sample looks like normally. I’ll get one during my next trip to the lab, but for now a text description will have to suffice.
Imagine a metal thumbtack with some gray powder on the top. Just a smooth, gray finish that you know better than to touch. It’s probably 1/4″ across, and has no features that are visible to the naked eye – just a flat, consistent surface. In the hyper-zoom below, the giant dark area is just the adhesive that the spheres would usually be embedded into. It looks like a massive area, but we’re pushing 100,000x magnification here. You wouldn’t stand a chance of seeing this blank spot under even the most intense scrutiny.
This sample came with the SEM, and is used by technicians to calibrate the focus at even the most extreme of magnification. Notice how no matter how deep you zoom, there are always smaller spheres? Amazing, isn’t it!!!