Curriculum Vitae

David Scharf

Born in Newark, N.J.

Lived and went to School in Asbury Park, N.J. from age 8.

Studied Physics and Photography at Monmouth College, N.J.

1970 to 1972: BGW Audio Systems: Was one of 3 founding engineers who designed and produced the first fail-safe, high power, solid-state professional audio amplifier.

1972: Lear Seigler Corp., Santa Monica, CA; worked on classified missile systems.

1972: Bendix Corp., Agoura, CA: worked on classified torpedo systems.

1973: Hughs Research Laboratories, Malibu, CA: worked on applied research for high-voltage transmission lines and control systems with Dr. Tappas Mukotomoni and Dr. Werner Eckhart.

1973 to 1974: Burroughs Corp in Newberry Park, CA: working in the Vacuum Physics Laboratory, designing control systems for high-vacuum deposition and eventually doing electron microscopy. This is where he learned to use a Scanning Electron Microscope (S.E.M.) on the job, after hours. He is self-taught, and in the process of learning the equipment operation, was able to develop new techniques to photograph small organisms, such as insects, and plants while alive, unfixed, and uncoated (bypassing standard techniques which require killing the specimens). He also applied his knowledge of Photography to the S.E.M. imaging system. The results were groundbreaking in the field of scanning electron microscopy.

1975 began self-employment with a specialization in S.E.M. Photography.

His S.E.M. photographs were first published in 1975. On March 3, 1975, Newsweek published a two-page feature story with pictures, about his new SEM techniques. First one-man SEM photography exhibit, “A Closer Look”, was in 1975 at the Museum of Science & Industry in Los Angeles; his second exhibit was at The National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. also in 1975. Please see the “Exhibits List” for further exhibit information. Soon after in 1976, his work was published on the cover of McGraw-Hill Science & Technology Encyclopedia Yearbook and featured in a National Geographic article in February 1977. These were just a couple of the more important publications for that time. There were many more.

First book, "Magnifications: Photography with the Scanning Electron Microscope", was published in 1977 and subsequently reprinted in paperback in 1978 (around 70,000 copies total). It earned very good reviews, and was even praised by Ansel Adams. Since then, David’s S.E.M. photography has been published in almost every major world magazine, including Time, Life, Newsweek, National Geographic, Natural History, Smithsonian, Science, Nature, Scientific American, Discover, Harpers, Geo, Realités, N.Y. Times, L.A. Times, etc. Thousands of his pictures have been published in magazines, textbooks, trade books, and other publications for editorial and advertising. He has had personal television interviews on ABC, CBS, NBC, WGBH, PBS, etc. (TODAY, Good Morning America, etc), as well as interviews on radio. In 1984 he was a guest on the PBS/KOCE-TV series, “The Photographic Vision”, “Visual Documents” episode where the philosophy of his work was discussed and is now a permanent part of this educational production. In 1982 his photographs appeared in the movie "Blade Runner"--these were the first S.E.M. images to appear in a motion picture.

1985 Award of Distinction from American Association of Museums; Museum Publications; Poster: “Animal Senses” for Witte Museum

1986 won 3 National Press Photographer’s awards for story on “Dust” for Discover Magazine.

1986 Gertrude Murphy Award for advertising: Spectra Physics Ad.

1986 Cable Car Award for Advertising: Spectra Physics Ad.

1987 Print Design Annual Award for Design Excellence: photo spread in Discover Magazine.

1994 awarded US Patent (5,212,383) for invention of the Multi-detector Color Synthesizing Scanning Electron Microscope. Patents were subsequently awarded in Canada, Australia, Korea, Japan, and Europe (EPO).

2001 honored with the presentation, to an esteemed audience of directors, producers, and cinematographers, of his production and experimental IMAX 3-D movie footage for a symposium on Digital Cinematography by the Large Format Cinema Association (LFCA) at the Universal City IMAX Theater.

2001 won an EMMY Award for work on a 2000 National Geographic Documentary film, “Body Snatchers”. This was first time HDTV footage was generated from a SEM.

2001 Award of Merit in Micro-Photography; International Wildlife Film Festival; “Body Snatchers”.

2003 First Annual International Photography Awards: Won the “Microphotography/Medical” category for the “Photographer of the Year” competition.

Professional memberships: 
MSA - Microscopy Society of America 
ASEM - Australian Society for Electron Microscopy 
MAS - Microbeam Analysis Society 
SMPTE - Society for Motion Picture and Television Engineers 
SPIE - Society of Photonics and Instrumentation Engineers 
AAAS - American Association for the Advancement of Science

Since 1974, David’s work in scanning electron microscope photography has defined the state of that art. He introduced the fine art of Photography to this field and takes utmost enjoyment and interest in the continued challenge for its advancement. His research, design, invention, and exploration in this field has been has been self-supported via commercial work in editorial and advertising publication, as well as work in television and motion pictures. David has pioneered, researched, developed, and/or perfected several techniques -- notably:

1974 Perfected the imaging of living subjects in their “natural state” about 20 years before the invention and commercial introduction of the Environmental S.E.M. (ESEM). His technique remains photographically superior in most respects. (See

1974 In-depth investigation of film-developer combinations best suited to high resolution (blue phosphor) C.R.T. film recording for SEM, with regard to resolution and contrast issues. Some of these findings were later published in an article David wrote for “View Camera” magazine in July/August 1992 issue.

1980 Developed his own techniques for hand toning S.E.M. prints in order to enhance the “readability” of features using color. These techniques utilize multiple toners and masking.

1988 Recorded the first SEM video movie entitled, “A Tour Of The Honeybee” which was commissioned for permanent exhibit at The St. Louis Zoo.

1989 Recorded (for the first time): insects alive and moving on video, in an SEM, commissioned for a television commercial (Orkin).

1990 Designed, developed, and built the “SEM Wideband Multi-Detector Color Synthesizer”. This technique greatly enhances the readability and visual interpretation of the topography of SEM subjects with added directional illumination information in the form of color, using computers and digital acquisition for recording images. Worldwide patents were awarded as noted above

1991 Lecture and presentation for Microscopy Society of America annual meeting entitled, “The Scanning Electron Microscope as an Artistic Tool”.

1991 Scientific paper and abstract entitled, “The Art And Technique Of Scanning Electron Microscopy” for presentation at annual “Advances in Microscopy” symposium, hosted by Duke University Medical Center

1995 - 2002 Was a featured lecturer and instructor for the annual Microscopy School Short Course at Lehigh University.

1996 Scientific paper and lecture entitled, “The Use of Color in S.E.M. Imagery”, for presentation and publication in “The Australian Microscopy Newsletter” for the annual meeting of the Australian Microscopy Society.

1997 Produced the first SEM movie sequences for a motion picture--an IMAX 3-D movie entitled, "The Hidden Dimension". This was also the first color SEM movie footage and the first 3-D SEM movie footage. Developed computer motion controlled SEM digital movie recording system for this project with the collaboration of John A Hunt and Jacob Wilbrink of Gatan, Inc.

1998 August. Scientific paper and abstract with J.A. Hunt for presentation and publication in Microscopy & Microanalysis Journal, entitled, “SEM Stop-Frame, Color, 3D Animation For Motion Pictures”. Microscopy Society of America.

1998 August. Scientific paper and abstract for presentation and publication in Microscopy & Microanalysis Journal, entitled, “Secondary Electron Detectors, Image Quality and Contrast”. Microscopy Society of America. (Color contrast is also discussed).

1999 August. Lecture and presentation of “State-of-the-Art Imaging Techniques” for the Presidential Symposium of the annual meeting of The Microscopy Society of America.

1999 Created the first stop-motion color HDTV (720P) video sequences from a SEM for “Intimate Strangers – Unseen Life on Earth”, PBS.

2000 Scientific paper and abstract co-author. For presentation and publication in Microscopy & Microanalysis Journal, entitled, “Advances in Environmental Scanning Electron Microscopy; Semiconductor/Thin Film Applications, Cathodoluminescence, Spectroscopy, and Detector Quantum Efficiency Comparisons”. Microscopy Society of America.

2000 Created the first full HDTV (1080P) color video sequences from a SEM for National Geographic TV Documentary film “Body Snatchers”.

2003 April. Lecture, presentation, and art exhibit for “Art of the Science Image” at the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

2003 May. Lecture and exhibit. Modern Microscopy/SCANNING 2003: Tutorial on scanning electron microscope digital imaging techniques.

With a grant from the Lore Degenstein Gallery of Susquehanna University in 2000, David was able acquire the equipment and supplies necessary to perfect the use of wide-format ink-jet printing for the SEM multi-detector color images he has been creating. He studied and mastered the latest techniques for image color calibration with the aid of colorimeters, spectrophotometers, and color profiling software to create a calibrated, consistent digital color work-flow in order to produce fine prints of exceptional quality and depth.

David does his own electronics design, equipment maintenance, computer work, photography and printing. He used to make traditional photographic darkroom prints up to 20”x24”, but now he mostly prints digitally.

See separate “List of Exhibitions”.