A sophisticated device able to magnify samples to up to 300,000 times their original size has been installed at the Faculty of Science. The extended variable pressure scanning electron microscope provides students and researchers with access to some of the most advanced imaging and analytical technology available.
The £350,000 microscope, which allows specimens to be stored at a variety of temperatures and pressures, has the capacity to handle materials with a mass of up to 5 kilograms. An inbuilt cryo-transfer unit gives the apparatus the ability to instantaneously freeze fresh biological samples while rapid imaging takes place. The equipment can also accommodate substances at temperatures as low as minus 185 degC, enabling items with more unstable consistencies such as glass, creams and liquids to be examined in greater detail.
The microscope was purchased with the assistance of £300,000 from the Higher Education Funding Council for England. It is based in the Electron Microscope Unit in the Eadweard Muybridge Building, which has also become home to a transmission electron microscope, a confocal microscope and a laser raman microscope as part of a major investment programme during the past three years.
Reader at the School of Earth Sciences and Geography Dr Peter Treloar said the microscope would be an enormous asset for students and researchers across the University. “Having access to such state-of-the-art equipment will allow us to undertake far more detailed analysis then previously possible and support teaching and research in fields ranging from geology and engineering to forensics and pharmaceutical science,” he added.