Ogden College Electron Microscopy Facility

Ogden College Electron Microscopy Facility

To provide training and equipment so that anyone within Ogden College can prepare and observe samples using electron microscopy.

Goals & Objectives

The primary goal of the facility is to make electron microscopy accessible to anyone within Ogden College. This includes:

– keeping equipment in working order,

– instructing users on how to prepare and then view their samples,

– supervising trained users as they work.

Capabilities & Services

The facility has two electron microscopes: a JEOL 1400Plus transmission electron microscope (TEM) and a JEOL 6510LV scanning electron microscope (SEM).


TEM Imaging:


To image samples in the TEM, a beam of electrons is transmitted through a very thin sample ( <100 nm thick) mounted on a 3 mm diameter disk of copper screening (called a “grid”).


If the original sample is large, it must be embedded in plastic and then cut into 100nm slices with an “ultramicrotome” before placing on a grid.


If the original sample is already less than 100nm thick it can be:

– frozen in thin films of water in the holes in the grid, and observed frozen in the TEM,

– adhered to a thin film of plastic or carbon covering a grid, then dried and observed at room temperature.


The best resolution routinely obtained on our TEM is about 0.2nm.


SEM Imaging:


Images in the SEM are created one pixel at a time as a finely focused beam scans across a sample. For each spot, detectors measure “products” of the beam as it collides with the atoms in the sample– the more products detected from a spot hit by the beam, the brighter the corresponding pixel.


Our SEM has three detectors:

– a secondary electron detector– for imaging topography,

– a backscattered electron detector– for imaging composition (with heavier elements brighter)

– an x-ray detector– for imaging specific elemental distributions.


The best resolution routinely obtained on our SEM is about 10nm.

Samples can be large (up to 100mm in diameter and 40mm high) and at the lowest magnification (8x) an area on the sample as large as 16mm x 10mm can captured in one image.


Funding for the center comes from (in order of importance) the Ogden College Dean’s office, the Biology Department, from some grants, from donations from individual faculty members, and from revenue generated when local businesses use the SEM.



The Ogden College Electron Microscopy Facility is a support facility funded by the college. Policy and funding decisions are made by the Dean’s office and the faculty who use the facility.


The facility is used by faculty and students from Architectural and Manufacturing Sciences, Biology, Chemistry, Engineering, Geology and Physics.


For Students 

Several courses in Ogden College include introductory tours of the EM Facility. Students in BIOL212 “Genome Discovery and Exploration” go further with each student using the facility to view the bacteriophage (viruses of bacteria) that they individually isolate and characterize in this course.

If students are involved in a research project that requires electron microscopy, they can learn just what they need to know to complete their project.

If students wish to become fully proficient in using both the SEM and TEM, they can enroll in BIOL 404 “Electron Microscopy”.

For Faculty

Faculty are welcome to learn how to use the equipment, however they generally find it easier to send their students for training. There is no charge to faculty or students to use the facility for research or teaching.

For the Community

Community groups can arrange for tours tailored to their interests and time.

Local businesses can use the facility for a fee through the Advanced Materials Institute (Pauline Norris), and the Thermal Analysis Lab (Houyin Zhao).

As part of a grant to Dr. Rodney King, the facility is used by students from more than a half dozen colleges and universities in Kentucky to view their bacteriophage isolated as part of their “Genome Discovery” courses.

The facility itself is its biggest success story. It started with used and surplus equipment in the 1970’s. A grant for the first new equipment, an SEM, was awarded in 1995. In 2013, a group of faculty led by Dr. Hemali Rathnayake (Chemistry) was awarded $425,000 for a new TEM. Then in 2014, a group led by Dr. Muhammad Jahan (Architectural and Manufacturing Sciences) was awarded $193,000 for a new SEM.

Know of a way this research center is making a difference? Let us know on the Submit Info tab.

During the past year the two microscopes at the facility each received over 800 hours of use involving over 300 students, faculty, staff and visitors. Each microscope had over 30 users who had gone to the trouble to become fully trained– a time investment of 8-16 hours of lecture, practice and testing.

o submit an Outcome or Publication, use the Submit Info tab.

For more information about this research center, contact John Andersland at (270) 745-5993 or john.andersland@wku.edu

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