RRC-EMS: Service

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For occasional users we are able to offer full service. Fill in the Service Request Form, send us your specimens with the form and any relevant publications, protocols or information, and we will do the rest! (NOTE: Prices quoted are for internal UIC users).

Typical service charges for an entire experiment from cells, tissue, or bulk material to final TEM/STEM data are typically $714-$1458. TEM/STEM of powder specimens may be cheaper ($264-$978). SEM experiments are typically $87-$468. Additional techniques such as microanalysis, in-situ heating or cooling, atomic resolution imaging or multi stage specimen preparation may add to these charges. Service specimen preparation is charged at $60/hr and microscope time at $87/hr ($102 for ARM200CF). Electron Microscopy Service staff will be able to give you a better estimate based on the information you give on the Service Request Form.

For Life Science Transmission Electron Microscopy please get in touch with Figen Seiler.

For Scanning Electron Microscopy, both Life Science and materials science get in touch with Olivia Thomson.

For Materials Science Transmission Electron Microscopy and Surface Analysis please get in touch with Alan Nicholls or Fengyuan Shi.

Life Science TEM Service Work

Life Science TEM Specimen Preparation is a time consuming procedure. We are able to process up to six pieces of six samples at the same time until we get to microtomy. This results in a significant price break compared to processing each specimen individually. All life science specimens need to be processed to remove the water from the specimen and replace it with a plastic resin without introducing artifacts. Typically, for TEM, this is a multistage process involving:

  • 1. Primary Fixation - to halt degradation of tissue (eg 4% glutaraldehyde in phospate buffer for at least 4 hours). Rate of penetration is slow and sample must be less than 1mm thick in one dimension to acheive good fixation. Please talk to us for the correct fixative if you want immuno-EM.
  • 2. Washing - in phosphate buffer to remove glutaraldehyde
  • 3. Secondary Fixation - to stabilize cell components (eg 1% Osmium Tetroxide in phosphate buffer)
  • 4. Dehydration - to replace water with ethanol (increasing ethanol concentrations from 50% to 100% in 5 steps)
  • 5. Infiltration - to replace ethanol with a transitional solvent (eg Propylene oxide) then replace the transitional solvent in the specimen with resin (33% resin in propylene oxide increasing in 4 steps to 100% resin.) Typical resins used include LR White and LX112.
  • 6. Embedding - to enclose the resin impregnated specimen in resin block.
  • 7. Curing - leave the blocks for a period of time (24hours at 60oC) to set.
  • 8. Thick sectioning - Use the microtome to cut thick sections which are then stained in toluiodine blue for optical examination to confirm area of interest is present
  • 9. Ultramicrotomy - to cut transmission thin slices from the resin block containing the specimen and deposit the slices onto a support grid.
  • 10. Staining - to increase the contrast of the images obtained by staining parts of the structure with a heavy metal stain (eg uranyl acetate - a nuclear stain or lead citrate - a cytoplasmic stain)

Step 1 Primary fixation should be done in the investigators lab as soon as the sample is harvested to avoid degradation of the sample. Tissue samples should be no larger than 5-10mm and no thicker than 1mm. The volume of the fixative should be at least four times that of the sample.

Steps 2 to 7 are carried out by EMS staff in the EMS-W prep lab (E5B MSB). We are able to process up to six pieces, of six samples in each run which can take anywhere up to 12 hours of staff time depending on type of sample (e.g. cell culture versus tissue sample) and specific protocol requirements. This will typically be completed over a two to three day period. At the end of the run each piece of each sample is embedded in a resin block suitable for microtomy. You will be charged for the actual staff time used for each run which will not exceed $720 (12 hours).

Step 8 thick sectioning takes around 20 min per block and step 9 Ultramicrotomy takes around 40 min per block generating up to 6 grids from each block. You will be charged for the actual staff time used which will not exceed $60 per block sectioned.

Step 10 Staining takes 1 hour for up to six grids and typically two grids from each block sectioned are stained. You will be charged $60 for each Staining run.

Time and cost estimates for Life Science TEM specimen preparation by EMS staff
# of samples Prep of Resin block (steps 2-7; hrs) Cutting Thick sections per block (step 8; hrs) Cutting thin sections up to 6 grids per block (step 9; hrs) Staining - 2 grids per block (step 10; hrs) TEM Imaging per grid (hrs) Estimate UIC rate Estimate per sample UIC Rate
1 <12 0:20 0:40 1:00 0:30 $884 $884
2 <12 0:40 1:20 1:00 1:00 $987 $494
3 <12 1:00 2:00 1:00 1:30 $1091 $364
4 <12 1:20 2:40 2:00 2:00 $1254 $314
5 <12 1:40 3:20 2:00 2:30 $1358 $272
6 <12 2:00 4:00 2:00 3:00 $1461 $244
7 <24 2:20 4:40 3:00 3:30 $2345 $335
8 <24 2:40 5:20 3:00 4:00 $2448 $306
9 <24 3:00 6:00 3:00 4:30 $2552 $284
10 <24 3:20 6:40 4:00 5:00 $2715 $272
11 <24 3:40 7:20 4:00 5:30 $2819 $257
12 <24 4:00 8:00 4:00 6:00 $2922 $244
13 <36 4:20 8:40 5:00 6:30 $3806 $293

Materials TEM Service Work

In general each specimen has to be prepared individually. You will be charged for the actual staff time used. If your specimen needs ion milling you will be charged $60 per calendar day used. The cost can range from $60 to $540 depending on how many steps there are in preparing the sample. Once prepared imaging and analysis can range from $87 to $918 depending on whether you want basic TEM imaging or extensive microanalysis and atomic resolution STEM imaging.

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