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i realize a similar question has been asked before, but nothing specifically discussing the topic of recreating the materials seen in electron microscopy. the tutorials i have seen use fresnel as a factor to mix emission and diffuse, while this works i find the result is not entirely realistic, and shadows don't look good on this material as it has emission in it, therefore i'd like to ask, if you were to try to recreate a realistic electron microscopy material, how would you do it? the way i have tried is simply adding the layer weight nodes fresnel output as a factor in a colorramp, and adding said color ramp to a diffuse node, but i feel like there must be a better. more realistic way. image is an example of what i want to achieve. tardigrade in 100 micrometer magnification.

tardigrade in 100 micrometer magnification

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I made the following observations from your reference image:

  • The lighting isn't uniform, there appears to be a light shining from the right side
  • Areas with little thickness appear brighter

Therefore I'd suggest to use a translucent material with volume absorption. Light may pass through thin areas of the mesh, while it gets absorbed by larger volumes. The benefits of this approach are:

  • Responds to the lights in your scene
  • The material doesn't emit light

Update:

The following material is an improved version. It now has the highlights along the contours of the mesh.

Improved Render Improved Material Nodes


Old:

Render

Material Nodes


Alternative:

An alternative approach which uses emissive shader could look like the following node tree.

Render

Material nodes

The bunny and dragon model are from the Stanford Computer Graphics Laboratory.

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I think the Layer Weight gives rather good results, you use it as a factor between a black Diffuse and a white Emission. Put a bit of Bump into the Layer Weight if you need to give the surface some little details.

enter image description here

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