Electron lenses are designed to act in a manner emulating that of an optical lens, by focusing parallel electrons at some constant focal distance. Electron lenses may operate electrostatically or magnetically. The majority of electron lenses for TEM use electromagnetic coils to generate a convex lens. The field produced for the lens must be radially symmetrical, as deviation from the radial symmetry of the magnetic lens causes aberrations such as astigmatism, and worsens spherical and chromatic aberration. Electron lenses are manufactured from iron, iron-cobalt or nickel cobalt alloys, such as permalloy. These are selected for their magnetic properties, such as magnetic saturation, hysteresis and permeability.
The components include the yoke, the magnetic coil, the poles, the polepiece, and the external control circuitry. The pole piece must be manufactured in a very symmetrical manner, as this provides the boundary conditions for the magnetic field that forms the lens. Imperfections in the manufacture of the pole piece can induce severe distortions in the magnetic field symmetry, which induce distortions that will ultimately limit the lenses' ability to reproduce the object plane. The exact dimensions of the gap, pole piece internal diameter and taper, as well as the overall design of the lens is often performed by finite element analysis of the magnetic field, whilst considering the thermal and electrical constraints of the design.
The coils which produce the magnetic field are located within the lens yoke. The coils can contain a variable current, but typically utilize high voltages, and therefore require significant insulation in order to prevent short-circuiting the lens components. Thermal distributors are placed to ensure the extraction of the heat generated by the energy lost to resistance of the coil windings. The windings may be water-cooled, using a chilled water supply in order to facilitate the removal of the high thermal duty.