Scanning Electron Microscopy Laboratory

SEM laboratory gallery

Detail of microscopic images taken with SEM instruments


The SEM Research Laboratory is part of the School of Environment, Science & Engineering. It houses two scanning electron microscopes, along with with equipment used in sample preparation for the SEM's, an ultra-microtome, research stereo and compound light microscopes with fluorescence attachment, and a petrographic microscope.  All microscopes have digital cameras attached for imaging.

The facility provides services to honours and postgraduate students, post-doctoral research staff, research fellows, general staff, and commercial research projects and consultancies. Some undergraduate work may be done on the systems from time to time.

Both electron microscopes are used for investigation of biological and non-biological materials. Both systems are equipped with SE and  BSE detectors,  X-Ray Analysis capabilities and element distribution mapping. The EVOLS-15 is also is fitted with VP and EP detectors and a coldstage. Automated Imaging using Zeiss Smart SEM AII (Austomated Intelligent Imaging) is available on the EVOLS-15.  (see equipment for further detailed information on all systems).


  • Electron microscopy imaging of biological and non-biological materials - imaging and analysis
  • EDS X-Ray analysis and element distribution mapping using Oxford INCA
  • Light Microscopy and imaging
  • Sample preparation: Using CPD drying, freeze drying or cold stage
  • Sputter coating with gold and carbon
  • Training in both Basic and Advanced Scanning Electron Microscopy and SEM sample preparation
  • Training in EDS -  X-Ray Analysis for materials science
  • Training in Light Microscopy Techniques

Zeiss EVO LS-15 (biological and materials science)

  • SE detector (secondary electron)
  • VPSE detector (variable pressure secondary electron)
  • EPSE detector (extended pressure secondary electron)
  • Extended range peltier cooling stage
  • 4 Q BSD detector (four quadrant back-scatter - lens mounted)
  • EDS Oxford Analysis- INCA X-Act SDD Detector (silicon drift detector - UTW) - quantitative and qualitative analysis, element distribution mapping.
  • Resolution:- 3nm at 30kV, 10nm at 3kV, 20nm at 1kV
  • Accelerating Voltage - 200V to 30kV
  • Large specimen chamber

Leica Leo 440 Stereoscan (biological and materials science)

  • SE Detector (secondary electron)
  • BSD Detector (back-scatter)
  • Cathodoluminescence detector
  • Oxford EDS (x-ray analysis - Be Window)
  • EDS Oxford - Link Software
  • Resolution - 4.5nm at 30kV
  • Image Store - 1024 x 768 pixels
  • Accelerating voltage - 300V to 30kV

SEM prep laboratory equipment

All equipment for SEM sample preparation is available with the lab.  All chemicals and fixatives necessary for SEM sample preparation are also available.  If they are not available they can be ordered.

  • Baltec 050 - Sputter Coater (Au and Pt coating available)
  • Baltec 050 Evaporative coater attachment (carbon thread)
  • Polaron 3100 - Critical Point Dryer (using Liquid Co2) for drying samples
  • Polaron PT7150 Plazma Barrel Etcher
  • Ultramicrotome: Reichert OMU3

Research light microscopes

Olympus CX40 - research compound microscope

  • CX-RFL Reflected light fluorescence attachment
  • Phase contrast turret
  • Polarising lenses
  • Olympus DP21 digital camera

Olympus SZX16 stereo mictroscopes

  • Olympus DP21 digital camera
  • Olympus ring light
  • Olympus fibre optic (2 arm) light

BHSM-NL-2 metallurgical polarizing microscopes (50x-1000x)

Olympus CX21 compound scope

  • Micropublisher 3.3 digital camera

Olympus SZ51 stereo scope

  • Micropublisher 3.3 digital camera


The following courses are available to honours and postgraduate students, staff members (academic and general), and commercial research/consultancy groups. For all training courses, bookings and fees, please contact Maxine Dawes

Light microscopy - all light microscope course are carried out on an individual needs basis, depending on type of work, and microscope required.

Introduction to the SEM - this course covers Basic and Advanced SEM techniques as well as techniques in sample preparation.

Introduction the x-ray analysis - this course covers X-ray Analysis using Energy Eispersive Analysis (EDS). Please note: pre-requisite for this course is the Introduction to the SEM course.

All new users will be trained on the SEM on a one-to-one basis, unless a group course is running.

More information

Maxine Dawes
T: 02 6620 3661
M: 0408 663 188
F: 02 6621 2669