Center for Advanced Microscopy – UMCAM

The University of Miami Center for Advanced Microscopy (UMCAM) provides SEM (scanning electron microscopy) and TEM (transmission electron microscopy) services.  The hourly fee for academic usage is $85/hr and the commercial fee is $200/hr.  This applies to all instruments.

SEM Services

The instrument used is an FEI XL-30 Field Emission ESEM/SEM. This instrument also has an EDS (energy dispersive spectrometer) so that in addition to imaging we can perform elemental analysis of a specimen in the SEM. The imaging capabilities of the instrument are impressive in that we can obtain good resolution images and relatively high magnification for an SEM. We can routinely work in the range of 100 to over 100,000X. This is because of the field emission gun (FEG tip) which provides a very narrow diameter electron beam which affords high resolution.

The EDS provides us with the ability to obtain information about sample chemistry, i.e.what elements are present. We have a detector which can collect x-rays from elements above atomic number 9, so in practical terms we can detect elements with Na in the low range. This is a semi-quantitative application so we can detect these elements (usually if they are above 5% or so) and they can be semi-quantitatively evaluated.

This instrument, although 10 years old, is essentially state-of-the-art in the field of scanning electron microscopy. The new instruments put out by FEI are very similar to this one.

The applications of the SEM are in many fields including chemistry, materials science, and biology. This instrument is usually used for research at the graduate or post-graduate level. We have several outside users that use this instrument for applications ranging from the evaluation of stents for biomedical research to analyses of samples prior to radiocarbon dating for potential recrystallization. Our outside UM Clientele range from archeologists, aero-space engineers, biomedical companies, building product manufacturers, and failure analysts.  We have also attracted researchers from universities around the world, recently from Australia and Malaysia. Our inside UM users are as diverse as the outside customers.

In addition to SEM we offer scanning electron microscopy preparation and consultation services as well. For example, we routinely have to perform "fixations" of biological material before they can be examined in the SEM. In many cases researchers bring in publications which utilize SEM equipment and we modify them to for their application. By the nature of the work much of this is collaborative.

The XL-30 SEM also offers environmental mode (ESEM). This mode allows us to use the instrument without the need for high vacuum operations. This has been a vital tool when analyzing samples that are too delicate to be conventionally prepared. Researchers from Biomedical Engineering and Bascom Palmer institute are predominant users of this technology as their respective samples (cornea, lenses, etc) are very delicate. This is a relatively unique application.


TEM Services

We have an older Philips 300 TEM. We use this instrument for examination of samples for transmission electron microscopy. In addition to imaging we have capabilities to perform electron diffraction (SAED) as well as EDS. These applications are used for examination of mineralogy as well as elemental composition of samples. The TEM is routinely used for imaging such materials as initial assessment of nanoparticle preparations as well as examination of sections of biological material after fixation of the cells/tissue.

SEM our TEM services are most often involved with graduate-level and above research applications.



1320 Campo Sano Drive
Knight Physics Bldg
Room 142B