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Department of Biosciences

Electron Microscopy

We have a unique EM facility offering a broad range of techniques that can answer many biological (and other) questions.

Conventional TEM is generally straightforward and can give new insight into the effects of chemicals, drugs and mutations at the molecular, cell and tissue levels. Immuno-gold TEM is now established in the facility and is a natural, but underused progression, from the immuno-fluorescence and confocal microscopy that many of you do. This of course will directly tell you exactly where in a cell your antigen is within a few nanometers. Double labelling can also be done. TEM can also be used to study the structure and conformation of isolated proteins and complexes. 3D information can be gained by EM tomography and other methods.

We also have the highest resolution SEM in the world, unique to a biology department in the UK. This will give you sub-nanometre resolution images of surfaces. We can also do immuno-gold labelling to locate antigens. Because these instruments are rare, there are not many examples of their use in biology, so people often overlook the possibility. Because of this, it is often straightforward to obtain unique insights into the processes being studied which can be instrumental in achieving publication in high impact journals. It is a versatile technique that has been used to look at the surface structure of molecular complexes, organelles, culture cells, tissue and whole organisms. Samples can also be examined frozen, so that fixation is not always necessary.

Both EMs are straightforward to use and are routinely operated by undergraduate project students.

Hitachi S5200 field emission SEM
Hitachi H7600