EM training is a serious committment for the researcher and the EM Core.  The TEMs, SEM, and microtomes are expensive and require great care and patience to use properly.  Misuse may result in significant downtime and expense to repair the device.  A new user will likely need many hours of practice on the EM instrument or microtome before he or she will be able to use the device properly and achieve high quality results.  He or she may need multiple sessions to properly fix and embed specimens.  Nevertheless, a new user can become proficient in a reasonable amount of time.

Training in usage of microtomes and EM instruments, in tissue processing (for thin-sectioning), and in negative stain and other sample preparation techniques is available.  Contact the director or a staff member to make arrangements for training.  Training is usually done on an individual basis.  Small groups of two or more people can usually be accommodated.

Training for EMs and microtomes will consist of the following:

  1. An overview of how the EM instrument or microtome works
  2. Introduction to operation of the device
  3. Practice operating the device
  4. Demonstrating your proficiency with your own speciment

Steps 1 and 2 can be done on the first session, but steps 3 and 4 will require additional sessions unless the user has had previous experience. For example, for use of a TEM the training involves a 1-2 hour introductory session, a 1-2 hour training in focusing, a 1-2 hour instructions in alignments, and additional sessions as required for your sample. After the first two sessions, the user will spend time on his or her own practicing before the third session.

After training is “completed”, members of the EM Core Laboratory are available to offer help and advice. Users who demonstrate proficiency will be allowed access to the equipment after normal business hours.

Training in cryo-TEM will require proficiency first in “traditional” TEM. In other words, the user will need to demonstrate independence with dry samples:

  1. At least 30 hours of experience looking at samples.
  2. At least 30 vent-free specimen exchanges.
  3. Demonstrate the ability to align the TEM independently (direct alignments).
  4. Demonstrate the ability to use the low-dose procedure (search, focus, expose) with a non-cryo sample.
  5. Independently
    • At an appropriate magnification, take quality pictures of a negatively stained or dry (if stain is unnecessary) specimen you prepared.
    • At a magnification > 100,000x, take pictures of a specimen.
    • At a magnification > 40,000x but < 100,000x, take a focal series (underfocus, at focus, overfocus)
    • Images must not have astigmatism.
  6. Understand how to find the beam when it is “lost”.
  7. Understand how to handle problems with the T12 that may arise.

Usage of the FEI Tecnai F20 instrument will require extensive practice and proficiency first on the FEI Tecnai 12 instrument.

Training fees are user fees for the desired device plus cost of staff member.

Research Services

Service Academic Fee* Commercial Fee*
EM Core Staff Time $35/hour $54/hour
Cut sections on microtome $8/hour $12/hour
Cut sections on ultramicrotome $13/hour $20/hour
Record images on transmission electron microscope see Equipment see Equipment
Record images on scanning electron microscope $32/hour $48/hour


*Supplies are additional cost.  Also, add staff time charges to usage fees if a EM Core staff member is involved.

Specific Research Procedures Done by Core Staff

Procedure for observing tissue & cellular specimens Academic Cost* Commercial Cost*
Epoxy Resin Embedding    $145/batch (1-5 vials)    $218/batch
L.R. White Embedding    $70/batch (1-5 vials)    $105/batch
Immuno-Bed (for light microscopy only)    $128/batch (1-5 vials)    $192/batch
Critical Point Drying    negotiate with staff    negotiate with staff
Osmification and Storage (in buffer)    $22/batch (1-5 vials)    $33/batch
Osmification, Dehydration (ethanol) & Drying (hexamethyldisalizane)    $54.50/batch (1-5 vials)    $82/batch

*Includes supplies

Procedure for observing particulate samples Academic Cost* Commercial Cost*
Negative Staining and Imaging $80/sample $120/sample
Metal Coating (sputter coating) negotiate with core staff negotiate with core staff
Critical Point Drying negotiate with core staff negotiate with core staff
Cryogenic TEM by hour by hour
Three-Dimensional Reconstruction (cryo-TEM or non-cryo-TEM) negotiate with core staff negotiate with core staff

*Supplies are additional cost