Scanning Electron Microscope Adds To Already Impressive Garage Lab

When you’re a high schooler who built a semiconductor fab in your garage, what’s next on your agenda? Why, adding a scanning electron microscope to your lab, naturally. How silly of you to ask.

When last we stumbled across the goings on in the most interesting garage in New Jersey, [Sam Zeloof] was giving a tour of his DIY semiconductor fabrication lab and showing off some of the devices he’s made there, including diodes and MOSFETs. As impressive as those components are, it’s the equipment he’s accumulated that really takes our breath away. So adding an eBay SEM to the mix only seems a natural progression, and a good reason to use some of the high vacuum gear he has. The video below shows [Sam] giving a tour of the 1990s-vintage instrument and shows images of various copper-sputtered samples, including a tick, which is apparently the state bird of New Jersey.

SEM hacks are by no means common around here, but they’re not unheard of. [Ben Krasnow] has used his to image cutting tools and phonograph records in action, and there are a few homebrew SEMs kicking around too. But our hats are off to [Sam] for yet another acquisition and a great tutorial to boot.

Thanks to [Jim Quinn] for the heads up.

11 thoughts on “Scanning Electron Microscope Adds To Already Impressive Garage Lab

  1. Nice lab for someone at any age. When I was a kid, I would of died of ecstasy to have even a corner of a garage for a workshop. I did have a drafting table in my room.

    I was also caught in the catch-22 of not having enough money until I got a job, and not having any time once I got that job.

  2. OMG! I love this guy! If it were not for him living in New Jersey I’d love to move in next door and hang around there. But even a shop like that’s not worth, you know, New Jersey. :P

  3. My admiration and applause to Sam’s parents.
    They have relinquished a sizable portion of their home and resources to help Sam grow. They have their priorities straight and have done a great job raising a great kid.

    1. Thanks, Randy. We are fortunate to have two sons whose natural curiosity and intelligence have made the parenting journey very interesting as well as fun. We had the easy part; they are the ones out in the shop all hours of the night playing with high voltage and toxic chemicals ;-)

  4. Wow, I’m really impressed, but being the leftist that I am, I’m also very shocked by the differences between the haves and the have nots. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to take anything away from Sam or his family, but I wish we were all so lucky to have such things growing up. We need more of this level of equipment available to the youth of the world. Things are becoming increasingly complex, and future scientific breakthroughs are going to require a lot of knowledge and equipment. I’m very happy Sam and his family are spending their fortune on knowledge instead of cars and TVs. This is what we need to continue moving forward as a species. I only wish it were more widely available. This is a bittersweet story at best. It shines a light on the best we have to offer, only to remind us of how little the majority of us have.

  5. Okay… I’m gonna ask… How did he get the *money* do fix this thing up?? When I was 16 I was repairing a SEM I bought off of craigslist after selling rainbow tables to shady security researchers but the price point to fix it up was extraordinarily steep and it sat in storage for a good while. Now I just mooch from my University but still! Wow!

    1. Actually it’s quite common to find inexpensive SEMs on eBay if you look long enough. I made someone a very low offer and was lucky enough for him to accept the offer and also repair costs were extremely minimal, just a few fuses, pump oil and other DIY hacks of that price magnitude. I started a company 2 years ago out of the other half of the garage ( and have saved up for a little while, this isn’t reallly something that’s out of reach for any thrifty kid.

  6. Thanks so much! Best video I have ever seen! I built and ran a lab many years ago for a company. This reminds me of some of it.
    Old and not so motile anymore but have done a lot in my life. One area of many was Instrument and Control work…engineering and
    tech.. I noticed the “haywire” behind the panel. That can cause problems and associated troubleshooting issues later. Separation of high
    voltage from low voltage and proper routing/labeling will pay off in the long run.
    Also, when you extend yourself into the workforce, do not sell yourself short! Experience speaking. People make money on valuable people like you so be very sure you negotiate appropriately….life experience!
    God Bless and good luck,
    John I

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