Nanoscale and Microscale Research Centre

CAT Suite

The Nanoscale and Microscale Research Centre have extended the range of biological samples that can be prepared and analysed. Our sample preparation laboratories have been approved and meet containment level 2 (CL2) requirements, and we can work with most bacteria and some cell lines, fungi, parasites and viruses.

These CL2 laboratories include a high pressure freezer, plunge freezer, metal mirror and freeze dryer, ultramicrotome which has cryogenic capability, and glove box for air free sample handling. We also house a small cell and bacteria culture laboratory for samples that require immediate preparation in these laboratories or may not be easily transported to the nmRC. Instrumentation includes cryo and confocal light microscopes with optical tweezers, two scanning electron microscopes both with elemental analysis and focussed ion beam capabilities, and 3D hybrid Time-of-Flight secondary ion mass spectrometer with OrbitrapTM for high sensitivity and resolution chemical mapping and analysis. 


Zeiss Crossbeam 550 (HR-CAT-SEM)

(Cryo-SEM and Cryo-FIB facilities) 

The Crossbeam 550 incorporates:

  • Gemini optics with superb low kV performance, extremely large field of views and a complete detection system (in-lens SE-detector, chamber SE-detector, in-lens EsB detector, chamber BsD detector). Secondary electron, secondary ion detector (required for cryo imaging). 
  • Magnetic-field free Gemini objective lens design for imaging of magnetic samples and live imaging during FIB milling without compromises. The system allows investigations of a large variety of samples including conductive, non-conductive and magnetic samples.
  • Highest levels of spatial resolution at low KV's: 1.4nm at 1 kV* (SE and BSE), Coincidence Point (WD 5mm): 1.8nm at 1 kV.

In combination with a Focused Ion Beam (FIB) and a Gas Injection System (GIS) the platform is extended towards a workstation for advanced TEM lamella preparation, 3D Tomography and nanofabrication. 

  • Flood gun
  • X2 sample holder together with SmartEPD software to achieve sub 20nm lamellae preparation (unique)
  • 6-axis super-eucentric stage (unique)
  • 12 position STEM holder optimised for EDS analysis
  • 3D EBSD applicable hardware and sample holder
  • A four gas plus Charge Compensator, Multi GIS system has been included. Platinum, Carbon Mill (water) and Carbon precursors available
  • Cryogenic system to freeze, manipulate and transfer samples into SEM, FE-SEM and Crossbeam systems. The PP3010T consist of a cryo sub-stage and anticontaminator for the SEM, a turbo pumped airlock and preparation station mounted to the SEM chamber
  • Omniprobe 200 Micromanipulator with Omniprobe rotation option and omniprobe cryo liftout option
  • Aztec Live Advanced Ultimax 170mm (EDS) detector
  • Aztec HKL Advanced integrated Symmetry (EBSD) detector
  • Pneumatic retractable STEM detector with annular detection diode design. Diode consists of a central segment (BF) Normal dark field (DF), Oriented dark field (ODF), Annular dark field (ADF), High angle annular dark field (HAADF)


FEI Quanta200 3D DualBeam FIB-SEM

(Cryo-SEM & ESEM facilities)

  • Thermal emission electron optics with dual-anode source emission geometry and through-the-lens differential pumping.
  • High-resolution (field emission) ion optics (MagnumTM column) with high-volume milling capabilities and an in-situ Omniprobe Model 100.7 nanomanipulator for sample milling, thinning, sectioning and lift-outs for more detailed structural SEM or TEM analysis.
  • Quorum Technologies PP3010T Cryo-SEM Preparation System for cryogenic sample preparation and analysis, including freeze-fracture and freeze-etching.
  • Oxford Instruments integrated INCA Energy 250 Microanalysis System for EDX elemental spectra and mapping.
  • Gaseous secondary and backscattered electron detectors for imaging and analysis in a gaseous environment (ESEM).
  • Gas Chemistry technology for enhanced milling rates including selective carbon mill.
  • High-precision specimen goniometer with 50 mm travel along the x and y axes.
  • Automation serving unattended sectioning with full access to E-beam, I-beam, patterning and gas chemistry functionality.
  • Tungsten metal deposition, carbon deposition, insulator enhanced etch (XeF2) and selective carbon mill gas injectors (2 fitted at one time).


3D OrbiSIMS 

A Time of Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometer (ToF-SIMS) with hybrid OrbiTrapTM functionality. Its key features include:

  • High mass resolution spectrometry (>240,000 and 11,000 amu for the OrbiTrap and the ToF, respectively.
  • High spatial resolution chemical imaging (<70 nm).
  • Gas cluster ion beam sputtering for controlled depth profile analysis of organics.
  • Cryogenic sample preparation facility, including high pressure freezing, freeze drying, cryo-ultramicrotomy and more.
  • Category 2 preparation facilities for cell/tissue analysis.

To find out more about the 3D OrbiSIMS, take a look at our webpage.



Zeiss LSM 900 with AiryScan 2
  • Multiplex mode with AiryScan for better quality and faster imaging
  • Resolution up to 140nm
  • Up to 4096 x 4096 pixels image size and up to 64fps
  • Up to 8x better signal to noise ratio
  • Zen software with 'Smart Setup'
  • Range of air and immersion objectives up to 100X
  • Live cell imaging
  • Z-stacks, tile mapping and time series
  • Zen Connect installed for correlative microscopy with SEM / TEM

To find out more about our Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy, take a look at our webpage.



RMC Products PowerTome and CR-X Cryo Ultramicrotome
For production of TEM suitable slices from samples, at room and liquid nitrogen temperatures. The microtome design reduces "play" between the parts of the engine to a minimum, virtually eliminating section chatter and susceptibility to external vibration. The powered cutting stroke has enough strength to cut through even hard, non-homogenous specimens. The CR-X Cryosectioning system attachment features "through the wall" arm, vibrationless LN2 delivery, and four temperature presets.


Nanoscale and Microscale Research Centre

Cripps South building
University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 748 6340
email: nmrcenquiries@nottingham.ac.uk