The Electron Microscopy Center

Just another College of Engineering site

Getting Started

The Electron Microscopy Center serves the entire University of Kentucky community. To begin you will need a valid UK account number. Check the online calendar and email either Dali Qian to set up an appointment. It would be to our mutual benefit if you familiarize yourself with the techniques/equipment you plan to use, and the EMC polices on this web site in advance, by reading this web site, researching the literature, and reading text books, etc. that may apply. Also if there is a specific technique you want to apply to your sample, it would be helpful for you to bring research papers that show what you are trying to accomplish.


The Electron Microscopy Center functions primarily as a teaching and research center. Only in limited cases will we operate in a fee for service type of arrangement. This occurs in one time only situations where it is known in advance the person will not be requiring analysis in the future. Normally we will teach you how to operate the instrument and to perform the techniques you require so that you can do your own research. In cases where new techniques need to be developed or sophisticated analysis needs to be performed we encourage collaborative arrangements. Read additional information for getting started in TEM use below.

External users

Users outside the University of Kentucky are encouraged to utilize our Center. See the pricing chart for outside users. In some cases outside users are required to bring a valid PO number for the cost of their time in advance. Contact us to see if you are one of these. Outside users can only use the Center during normal business hours. We can make special arrangements for you to have someone analyze your samples after hours. Normally the information required on your arrival will be:

  • Account Number
  • Address where invoice is to be sent
  • Contact person in your business office who will handle payment
  • Your personal contact information

Industrial users who require confidentiality and intellectual property agreements contact the Administrative office.

Getting Started in SEM

Read this SEM Guide before starting training to familiarize yourself with SEM concepts and procedures.


Check the Availability of the instrument you wish to use as follows:

Select an open day and a time:

  • Monday through Friday 9:00am-12:00noon or 1:00pm-4:00pm

Then Check Dali Qian’s availability by:

  • Clicking on the Calendars SELECT option located at the bottom right of the On-line Calendar
  • When the Change Calendar window appears,
  • Select the SEM Combined Calendar
  • Check the Day & time that you previously selected in order to see if Dali Qianis busy or out of the office on your day of choice. {Yellow indicates Dali Qian is unavailable}

If Both Dali Qian and Instrument are available, then e-mail your request to Dali Qian

Include in your request:

  • The instrument you wish to be trained on, the account number you will be using, & the Month Day & Time that you have selected.
  • When you come for training, bring a sample of the type that you will be observing along with your account number.

Getting Started in TEM

TEM analysis is a more demanding than many characterization methods in material analysis in regard to learning time, cost, analysis time, sample requirements, and skill required. Please read the “Learn to use a TEM Quickly…” chapters on the John Rodenburg website, Also read “Transmission Electron Microscopy” by David B. Williams and Barry Carter. After contacting and scheduling a training session with Dr. Qian, the new user will begin on the JEOL 2000FX. To start, the new user will learn basic alignment and how to record images. Some users may also want to learn SAED and CBD diffraction acquisition, and EDS spectra acquisition. After several sessions (three hours per session) when the new user can align and operate the 2000FX on their own, if they elect they can schedule training on the JEOL 2010F. Generally once a person can operate the 2000FX, it will only take them two sessions to become proficient at basic alignment and high-res. image acquisition on the JEOL 2010F. It can take much longer to get really good at it. STEM operation and learning other analytic methods can take even longer and this training is not begun until the user has become adept with the 2010F.

New users in TEM are advised to discuss with Dali Qian, either prior to or during their first training session, their characterization needs in regards to TEM. In cases where the user is interested in more than basic imaging, Dr. Qian can provide advice on which EM techniques may be advantageous for your research problem, provide you with references covering background material to become familiar with, and give you estimates on the time and difficulty associated with the different techniques. In such cases it would be very helpful for you to bring any papers that show the types of analyses you are interested in, on materials similar to yours.

It is a good idea before using the TEM to have characterized your sample with other methods that are straight forward and inexpensive to be sure you need the TEM. TEM analysis can be time consuming and expensive. It is common for the sample preparation to be the most difficult and time consuming part, because the sample needs to be very thin (50 to 100 nm). Also depending on the complexity, it can take a new user from a month of regular use to a year of regular use to obtain high quality data. In some cases for sophisticated analyses a researcher may want form a collaborative effort with an already experienced electron microscopist. Also in the case where you have a one time need, it may be possible to make an arrangement with an experienced user to analyze your samples. Our job is mainly to instruct you on how to make the most of the TEM for your research needs.

User Policies

Failure to follow these policies can result in your access privileges being removed.

  • Cancellations must be done two working days in advance or you will be charged two hours of time if a replacement is found, otherwise you will charged for the full amount of previously scheduled time.
  • After demonstrating proficiency, you may be granted after hours access by being issued a key code. Under no circumstances are you to give your key code to someone else.
  • The sample preparation facility is to be used only for samples that will be analyzed at our center. There is currently no charge for using the sample preparation facility.
  • Computers are to be used for work related to your use of our center not other business.
  • You are not to attempt things on the equipment that you have not been instructed on how to do. Repeated failure or disregard to follow instructions will result in your access privileges being removed.
  • If you find any equipment to not be working or supplies that have run out, you should inform Dali Qian immediately.
  • Supplies and components to be used in sample preparation must be signed out from Dali Qian. You and your advisor must sign an agreement to replace missing or damaged items.
  • Any sample preparation supplies, components, or other items may not be removed from our center except under special circumstances where there is an absolute need to do so. Dali Qian should be fully aware of the arrangement. This usually happens in cases of long sample preparation procedures that must go on after normal working hours.
  • External users are not allowed access unattended after hours.