RRC-EMS: Policies for use of EMS

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Policy on access to equipment

The Electron Microscopy Service (EMS) is a pay per use service that provides access to state-of-the-art instrumentation. All instrumentation and services in EMS have a minimum 1-hour charge, subsequent use is charged in 30-minute increments. Users must be registered with the RRC and have a valid RRC Account Number before any work can be carried out.

In order to access the instruments all users must be registered with the RRC, and have an active RRC Account Number tied to a funding source (credit card, purchase order or, to get the UIC rate, a C-FOAPAL number).

For the occasional User we are able to provide access on a service basis (assisted use), however it is recommended that investigators be trained how to use the instrumentation themselves. EMS staff are available to help prepare specimens for the instrumentation either as a service or to train the User. However, EMS reserves the right to refuse to take on work that we believe to be too time consuming, that will have a negative impact on other users or involves use of chemicals or techniques that are too hazardous.

Policy on unassisted use of equipment

You must book time in UICore before using any instrument. You can book sessions as late at 5 minutes before the start. If you use an instrument without booking it you will be charged a 1hr penalty fee on top of the time used.

Nobody shall use any equipment unassisted without first being trained, or being checked out by a member of the EMS staff. Under no circumstances shall a User train or instruct another User, regardless of their experience. The EMS staff has the final say as to whether a User is allowed unassisted access to a specific instrument during daytime hours Monday to Friday. When finished, instrumentation should be left clean and in a standard configuration.

Please notify a staff member if you find anything wrong with an EMS instrument do not attempt to repair it yourself. Each major instrument has a log book, if something unusual happens, however small, please write details down in the log book noting what you were doing and what happened - buying log books is cheap, repairing instrumentation is expensive! If you are not sure ask an EMS staff member before trying anything that could damage an instrument - we are always happy to answer questions.

Users who need access to instrument rooms without having booked time should contact EMS staff, by e-mail or in person, before entering an instrument room, to make sure that the instrument is available.

You will be charged for the time recorded on the log sheet. This should be the time that you enter the instrument room, to put your specimen into the instrument, to the time that you leave the instrument. In other words the entire tiome the instrument is not available for other users. It should not be the start and end times that you book - unless they coincide!

Policy on Training

New Users who have no prior electron microscopy experience must take the full training course for the instrument type they need to use. New Users who have significant experience from elsewhere can ask for conversion training, which typically will take a minimum of three hours at the assisted use rate. All new Users will be given copies of the EMS User documentation for the instrument they are being trained on. Users are expected to read the documentation and retain it for future reference.

Sign-up Policies

Upon successful completion of training on an instrument the User will be approved to book that instrument using UICore.

Please do not book more than two sessions, or more than one whole daytime session, in advance during the core period Monday to Friday (8:30am to 4pm). If an experiment needs more time than this to complete get in touch with EMS staff who will work with you to schedule the time you need while minimizing the inconvenience to other users. Expert users can book additional time early morning, evening, weekends and University holidays.

If you know you will need EMS staff help setting up a microscope or during your session please make sure a staff member is available before you make the booking.

UIcore allows Users to book, edit or cancel bookings up to the time of the reservation. Cancellations less than twelve hours before the start time will incur a penalty charge of 2hrs for most instruments and 4hrs for the ARM200CF.

Cancellation Policy

Up to 12 hours before the booking you can cancel your session on UICore without incurring a penalty charge. Cancelling within 12 hours of the start of a session will incur a penalty charge of two hours use of the instrument (four hours for the JEOL ARM-200CF). Failure to cancel a booking before the end of the session will lead to a charge equal to the booked reservation or the penalty charge, whichever is greater.

If you are going to turn up late or end your session early, please let the EMS staff know. In this case you will only be charged from your start time to end time on the microscope. Once your booked session has started the EMS will charge based on the reserved time or the penalty charge unless you have failed to turn up because of an emergency or you are ill. In all cases it is still important to get in touch with EMS as soon as possible, as often we can find another user for the time, which may reduce the amount charged to your account.

Time Reporting Policy

You must book time in UICore before using any instrument. You can book sessions as late at 5 minutes before the start. If you use an instrument without booking it you will be charged a 1hr penalty fee on top of the time used.

Once you have signed in on the instrument log EMS will charge for actual instrument time used, and not time booked. All instruments have log sheets or log books.

You should report the time you arrive in the instrument room to start your session and the time that you leave the instrument room at the end of your session. This includes the time to load and pump down your specimen and time at the end processing data on the instrument computers. It is not just the time the electron or X-ray source is on. If you have to leave an instrument room for a meeting or refreshments you will be charged for that time if a specimen is left in the instrument. (Loading specimens into the STC of the XPS is the one exception - charging on the XPS starts when you start moving the specimen from the STC to the SAC.)

The minimum charge on all instruments is one hour and then in increments of 30 minutes. If you need EMS staff help during your session you will be charged the assisted rate for periods of over thirty minutes.

For the SES Specimen Preparation lab use you should sign in once per week (Monday to Sunday) except if using the ion mills or ultramicrotomes, which are charged daily and hourly respectively and have their own log sheets. If EMS staff assist or carry out specimen Preparation for a User you will be charged at an hourly assisted rate (daily for Ion Mills).

Policy on unassisted use out of hours

Expert Users only are allowed access to the EMS laboratory equipment after hours. Any User can ask for permission to use EMS after hours, however, not every User will be granted the right to work after hours. EMS staff will make the decision based on the individual User’s skill and experience. Expert Users will need the key codes to get into the appropriate instrument labs – please do not pass these numbers onto anyone else. Knowledge of the key codes does not automatically mean you are an expert.

Policy on EMS computers

Nobody may use the computers for personal use. No software is to be downloaded onto any EMS computer without the written permission of the EMS Director. Checking e-mail and web surfing is prohibited.

Data Policies

All EMS microscopes use digital acquisition. Storage of data is the responsibility of the User. Digital Images must be moved off instrument computers and archived in a timely fashion. EMS will remove any images more than three months old, when necessary, without notice. Most instrument computers have CD-RW or DVD-RW drives and on most USB drives can be used - please be careful not to use infected USB drives! For the S-3000N, images are transferred to a shared drive on the E5F Data Station and then Images can be transferred to a USB drive or the RRC Server by FTP. The JEM-1220 and JSM-6320F are also connected to the Data Station. Data can be stored on the RRC Server for up to 6 months if you have your own account (e-mail ftp-help@mail.rrc.uic.edu to set up an account). If you use the default EMS account we ask that you remove data as soon as possible, data over 1 month old may be removed without notice. Files on the E5F Data Station in the E:\XFER shared drive may be deleted without notice after 1 week, as necessary.

Output Options

Hitachi S-3000N - Data from the S-3000N can be transferred to the shared drive on the Data Station in E5F. From the Data Station data can be written to CD or to an FTP site or cloud storage.

JEOL JSM-6320F - Data from the Orion computer can be written to a CD or transferred to the shared drive on the Data Station in E5F. From the Data Station data can be written to CD or to an FTP site or cloud storage.

JEOL JEM-1220 - Data from the Digital Micrograph Computer can be written to a DVD/CD drive or transferred to the shared drive on the Data Station in E5F. From the Data Station data can be written to CD or to an FTP site or cloud storage.

JEOL JEM-3010 - Data from the Gatan Digital Micrograph computer can be written to an FTP site or cloud storage (preferred) or to a CD or clean USB drive . XEDS data must be transferred from the Noran computer using a floppy disc.

JEOL JEM-ARM200CF - Data can be transferred to an FTP site or cloud storage (preferred) or written to a clean USB drive.

Kratos AXIS-165 - Data can be written to a CD or clean USB drive.

Renishaw inVia Reflex Raman - Data can be written to a DVD/CD drive or clean USB drive.

Acknowledgement of Use of EMS

Publications which result from research that made use of EMS instruments should include the following acknowledgment:


“This work made use of instruments in the Electron Microscopy Service (Research Resources Center, UIC)”


Publication data is one way of measuring the performance of the EMS. If you publish any data acquired on EMS instruments please notify me at nicholls@uic.edu so that I can add it to our publications list.


Note: Food and Drink are not allowed in any EMS laboratories at any time.

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