Microscopy > Scanning Electron Microscopy

SEM is currently down until further notice


Before beginning your SEM project, please EMAIL the CMIF staff with a detailed description of your experiment. We will be able to provide you with advice on how to prepare your samples as well as provide the appropriate fixative in a timely manner.

If your project requires frequent and ongoing SEM imaging sessions, training for independent use of this instrument is available. Training is performed on an individual basis and instrument rates and technical assistance fees apply during individual instruction. However, if the SEM imaging requirement for your project is finite, it is usually more cost effective to have a CMIF staff member assist you.


The cost of the instrument is $35.00 per hour and technical assistance is an additional $35.00 per hour. Sample processing costs vary according to the complexity of the sample. Processing very large samples may cost more. For samples of typical size, processing is $90 per three. Please CMIF staff for more information.


The FEI Nova NanoSEM 400 scanning electron microscope, equipped with secondary and low-vacuum detectors, is ideal for low, intermediate, and high-resolution imaging of most biological and material specimens. The Nova NanoSEM is equipped with a field-emission gun (FEG) electron source and provides a high-quality nanoscale research tool for a variety of applications that involve visualization and analysis. Small and large samples can easily be accommodated inside the large chamber, on the Nova NanoSEM’s high precision, high stability stages.

Preparation of biological specimens for SEM typically includes fixation and dehydration steps. Sample dehydration is accomplished at the CMIF using either chemical means or a critical point dryer. The critical point dryer replaces the ethanol with liquid carbon dioxide under pressure. Upon raising the temperature above the critical point for carbon dioxide, the liquid goes directly to a gas phase causing minimal shrinkage relative to that which accompanies either air or chemical drying. The dried specimens are mounted on stubs, then coated with a gold-palladium to convey electrical conductivity and observed in the SEM. Auxiliary equipment for specimen preparation include a Cressington critical point drier, Pelco Model 3 sputter- coater and a Pelco Biowave microwave tissue processing system.



Bug Head

Cells cultured on membrane

Glomerulu cross section