Table 2: Summary of the main advantages and limitations of SEM, TEM, and AFM in the field of build cultural heritage.

TechniqueAdvantagesLimitations

Scanning electron microscopy, SEM(i) No sample treatment (ESEM), or simple application of gold and/or carbon coating
(ii) Quantitative analysis when coupled with EDX
(i) Certain working conditions can alter sample surface
(ii) Small area examination is not always representative
Transmission electron microscopy, TEM(i) Nanoscale resolution
(ii) Quantitative analysis when coupled with EDX
(i) Sophisticated sample treatment is required
(ii) Sample treatment can affect quality of results
(iii) Small area examination is not always representative
Atomic force microscopy, AFM(i) No sample treatment is required
(ii) Nanoscale resolution
(iii) Acquisition of 3D images
(i) Not applicable when surface texture is above nanoscale
(ii) Small area examination is not always representative