Electron microscopy facilities

We are one of the largest centres in the UK for state of the art for electron microscopy, funded through grants from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research council (BBSRC), the North West Development Agency (NWDA), Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the University of Manchester Strategic Research Infrastructure Fund (SRIF).

We aim to operate an internationally leading Electron Microscopy Centre that ensures a balance between advanced research, teaching, service and training. We are committed to securing further national and European funding for research projects and actively encourage additional collaborations with both commercial and academic national and international partners. The Electron Microscopy Centre has been structured to be openly available to academic and industrial users under both collaborative and purchased access arrangements, for public domain dissemination and proprietary agreements respectively.

Our large size has enabled us to develop a knowledge database covering a wide range of applications and the experience required to deliver cutting edge microscopy data for a diverse spectrum of specimens including composites, biological, metallurgical, paper, textiles, archaeological, paleontological and geological etc. The Electron Microscopy Centre complements the capabilities which already exist within the School such as the Henry Moseley X-ray Imaging centre, the Stress and Damage Characterisation Unit as well as the significant expertise in the use of large-scale research facilities such as neutron and synchrotron radiation sources.

Microscope booking system

Staff and students wishing to use the equipment in the Electron Microscopy Centre must first complete the Electron Microscopy Access Request Form and return it to one of the electron-optical experimental officers, who will then arrange training as required on an appropriate electron microscope.

Once the training has been successfully completed, the user will be granted access to the on-line booking system to book the instruments that they are approved to operate.


We have a suite of 20 electron microscopes, comprising 12 scanning electron microscopes (SEMs), two dual beam Focused Ion Beam (FIB) microscopes, and five transmission electron microscopes (TEMs). This includes the recently installed state-of-the-art FEI Titan G2 80-200 scanning transmission electron microscope (S/TEM) with ChemiSTEM™ technology, the first of its kind in the UK. The Titan G2 80-200 S/TEM is a high-resolution analytical scanning transmission electron microscope with high-efficiency Silicon Drift Detectors (SDD), for energy dispersive x-ray spectrum imaging and analysis of materials at the atomic scale.  The microscope’s four advanced X-ray detectors, together with a bright, focused electron probe provide a dramatic improvement in EDX spectra acquisition speed (up to 50 times faster than that of conventional analytical electron microscopes), allowing the system to perform analyses in minutes rather than hours.

We also have an FEI Tecnai F30 300 kV Field Emission Gun Analytical Electron Microscope for TEM and STEM imaging with a High Angle Annular Dark Field detector. The Tecnai F30 is equipped with an Oxford Instruments Xmax80 SDD and an AZTEC analysis system. We also have an FEI Tecnai 20 200 kV Analytical Electron Microscope that will be equipped with an Oxford Instruments Xmax80 Windowless SDD and AZTEC analysis system. Our other instruments include a Philips CM20 200 kV TEM and a JEOL 2000FX AEM. All TEMs are equipped with CCD cameras. In addition, we have Ditabis Digital Image Plates, with outstanding dynamic range, for the acquisition of images and electron diffraction patterns. 

TEM preparation of complex specimens and serial sectioning is possible with the two dual beam Focused Ion Beam (FIB) microscopes: an FEI Nova 600i, equipped with an HKL electron backscattered diffraction (EBSD) system, and an FEI Quanta 3D FIB. In addition to our dual beam FIBs, we also have an FEI Quanta 250 FEG SEM dedicated to 3D imaging at the nano-scale using a Gatan x-ray tomography and ultramicrotome capability (Gatan 3View and XuM). The FEI Magellan FEG-SEM has a resolution of 0.8 nm, and is equipped with Oxford Instruments Xmax80 SDD system, EBSD detector and an AZTEC integrated analysis system. We have 5 FEG-SEMs equipped with EBSD analysis systems, which are widely used in our School.

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