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Use our electron microscopy service

The Imaging Facility has two scanning electron microscopes (SEM) and one transmission electron microscope (TEM).

Scanning electron microscopy

Scanning electron microscopes (SEM) produce high-resolution images of sample surfaces.


SU3900 Large chamber Variable pressure scanning electron microscope

This microscope allows easy, intuitive operation, with a specimen chamber that is able to accommodate large samples and a motorised stage allowing quick and easy specimen positioning. Variable pressure mode enables samples normally unstable in a high vacuum environment, or that have a tendency to charge, to be examined. Pharmaceutical particles, fibres and electronic components may be characterised without coating.

Features of the microscope include:

  • magnifications up to 30,000 times
  • variable pressure mode for charging, uncoated, and out-gassing samples
  • large sample chamber up to 30 centimetres in diameter and 13 centimetres in height
  • backscattered electron detector for compositional and topographic imaging
  • fully automated stage controls

The microscope has a large area Energy Dispersive X-ray analyser (EDX) attached (Oxford Instruments Ultim Max 170 millimetres²), which allows quantitative or semi-quantitative element analysis of materials present in the sample. It also allows X-ray mapping to show the distribution of particular elements across a sample.

The microscope also has an electron backscatter diffraction detector (EBSD) which can be used to properties in crystalline materials such as crystal structure, grain size and orientation, as well as looking at grain boundaries.

JSM-7900F field emission scanning electron microscope

This field emission scanning electron microscope allows for high-resolution imaging. Features include:

  • magnifications up to 500,000 times
  • thermal (Schottky) field emission gun (accelerating voltage range 10 volts to 30 kilovolts) with a maximum probe current greater than 500 nA
  • imaging at low accelerating voltages of 0.01-5 kilovolts
  • resolution of 0.7 nanometres at 1 kilovault and 0.6 nanometres at 15 kilovolts
  • samples up to four inches can be inserted into the FE-SEM via the airlock
  • in-lens secondary electron and electron detectors allow secondary and backscattered electrons to be detected at very short working distances (up to two millimetres working distance)
  • a retractable four quadrant sensitive in-chamber backscatter detector allows backscattered electrons to be detected at 800 volts and higher accelerating voltages
  • a Deben four segment STEM detector to allow up to 12 TEM samples to be looked at in the SEM
  • two EDX detectors: Ultim Max 170 millimetres¬≤ and Ultim Extreme 100 millimetres¬≤ at low accelerating voltage for ultimate spatial resolution
  • a Quorum PP3010T Cryo system to view beam sensitive samples at low temperatures causing less damage to them

Transmission electron microscopy

Transmission electron microscopes (TEM) produce images through the sample.


Jeol JEM-2100Plus Transmission electron microscope

This instrument is a multi-purpose transmission electron microscope, combining a JEM-2100 optical system with an advanced control system for enhanced ease of operation. Features include:

  • 200 kilovolts maximum operating voltage
  • LaB6 electron gun for excellent performance with reasonable running costs
  • digital Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy (STEM) system fully integrated into the TEM, and BF & HAADF detectors
  • Oxford Instruments large area EDX detector and Aztec analysis software for high-resolution elemental mapping
  • high tilt angle sample holder to enable electron tomography
  • dual tilt beryllium sample holder for analysis and diffraction
  • integrated JEOL 5 megapixel Ruby digital camera system

Typical samples are less than 50 nanometres thick, nanotubes, nanoparticles, biological samples, material cross sections, and thin samples of bulk material.

Leica EM RES102 ion beam milling system

A dual argon gun ion miller for preparing bulk samples for TEM analysis and for polishing SEM samples prior to electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) analysis.

Leica EM TXP

An electron microscopy preparation station for diamond drilling, sawing and polishing of small samples for SEM and TEM, and for ion milling.


Sample preparation

Discover the equipment we hold for sample preparation.


Ultramicrotome Ultracut

An ultramicrotome produces samples of soft material (mainly biological material) that are sufficiently thin for TEM analysis (less than 100 nanometres thick).

Sputter coaters and evaporators

These are available for coating samples to make them conductive prior to SEM imaging.

  • Quorum Q150V S Plus (chromium target and glow discharge)
  • Quorum Q150T S (gold target)
  • Quorum Q150V E Plus (carbon coater)

Contact us

If you have any questions, please get in touch with us.