In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the University Imaging Centers have implemented mandatory safety protocols. Please visit our sunrise safety protocols page to learn more 

Electron Microscopy & Sample Preparation

The University Imaging Centers is excited to announce the completed move and installation of the JEOL JEM-1400Plus transmission electron microscope at our Snyder Hall facility in Saint Paul.  This microscope features high resolution/high contrast imaging, outstanding S/TEM analytical performance, 3D tomography, and montaging.

Users already trained on the 1400Plus must coordinate with Dr. Gail Celio to schedule their first session in the new location.  Updated operation procedures will be discussed before the instrument can be used independently.  For researchers interested in training, we are developing remote training materials and modified in-person procedures to comply with the university’s Sunrise safety protocols.  In the meantime, the UIC continues to offer sample preparation, sectioning, and imaging services for researchers.  Please contact us at to discuss your project with our staff.

Thank you for your patience over the past months – we’re excited to enter this next phase of research and to see the results.

Sample Preparation:

The University Imaging Centers offer a range of sample preparation protocols for electron and light microscopy. We are set up for chemical processing (conventional, low-temperature, and microwave-assisted) of primarily biological materials, along with preparation of some physical materials.  For SEM, samples can be dried, mounted and sputter coated prior to observation.  Specimens for LM and TEM are embedded in resin and may be sectioned and stained. Serial block-face SEM processing can be done at the UIC, with data collection performed at the Mayo Clinic.

Sample Preparation Instruments:

The UIC also owns a critical point dryer, sputter coater, and ultramicrotome instruments for EM sample preparation. For more information visit our ancillary equipment page, or send us a message.

Snyder Hall


Jeol 1440 Plus

The JEM-1400Plus features high resolution/high contrast imaging, outstanding S/TEM analytical performance, 3D tomography, and montaging. This compact, easy-to-use TEM is suitable for biological, polymer, and materials science applications.

The JEM-1400Plus is equipped as follows:
• 60-120 kV tungsten filament (supports LaB6 filaments)
• Windows-based graphic user interface
• Motorized stage for sample positioning, including image tiling
• Automated tomography tilt-series acquisition
• Bottom-mounted Advanced Microscopy Techniques XR16 camera.

Hitachi S3500N Variable Pressure SEM


Location: 37D Snyder Hall

The Hitachi S3500N Variable Pressure Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM). Quartz PCI digital imaging, Stage with motor driven X & Y axes, Environmental Secondary Electron Detector (ESED), Absorbed Electron EBIC detector, Robinson Backscattered Electron Detector (BSE), standard Secondary Electron Detector (SED), Infrared ChamberScope, Windows NT Operating System, Emitech K-1150 Cryogenic System, with cryo-prep unit, airlock interface to SEM, sputter coater.

Serial Block-Face SEM

The University Imaging Centers in collaboration with the Mayo Clinic Microscopy and Cell Analysis Core(link is external), and the UMN's Research Computing(link is external) are excited to offer Minnesota researchers access to serial block face electron microscopy and data sharing, thanks to funding from the Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics(link is external).


Recent advances in microscopic imaging are bringing game-changing progress toward understanding public health problems such as aging, neurodegenerative disease, cancer, diabetes, kidney and liver disease and developmental disorders. Scientists can examine molecular features and cell- and tissue-specific relationships at high resolution in three-dimensional (3-D) and large overall volumes. This information can be digitally sampled, offering an unparalleled view of macromolecular complexes, cells and tissues of interest.

The award provides electron microscopy instrumentation, cyberinfrastructure and expertise to researchers at Mayo Clinic, the University of Minnesota and the Hormel Institute. This unique microscopy allows investigators to visualize biological structures at high resolution in 3-D space, bridging the gap between super-resolution and multiphoton optical microscopy and standard transmission electron microscopy.

UIC SBFSEM Sample Preparation

The UIC can prepare the samples and get them into the imaging queue at the Mayo Clinic Microscopy and Cell Analysis Core. We consult with each project, but the general workflow and protocols are available in PDF format below.  We provide all reagents and expertise to help towards a successful outcome.

Interested in SBFSEM? Send us a message! 

  1. Processing tissue for serial block-face SEM
  2. Preparing and sending material for serial block-face SEM