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University of Cambridge

University of Cambridge

The University of Cambridge’s Department of Earth Sciences and Wolfson Electron Microscopy Suite specialize in characterizing materials from millimetres to Ångströms. These collaborative facilities use advanced microscopy techniques to provide detailed information on atomic structure, microstructure, defects, and various properties. They also excel in data analysis, employing automated mineralogy, machine learning, and hyperspectral methods for chemical and diffraction data.

Department of Earth Science

Wolfson Electron Microscopy Suite (WEMS)

The Department of Earth Sciences offers world-leading education and carries out innovative and ground-breaking research, using excellent facilities in a dynamic, welcoming and inclusive environment.

The WEMS is based in a world renowned TEM research environment, that has a strong emphasis on technique development and experience of applications to a wide range of materials. Comprehensive facilities are available for preparation and TEM analysis of samples and processing of data.

Equipment Department of Earth Science


Electron Microscopy:
The department of Earth Science at the University of Cambridge provides access to a leading-edge Scanning Electron Microscope and Electron Probe MicroAnalyzer, equipped with Field Emission Guns.

Quanta 650F (FEG-SEM):
QuantaFEG650 with sample stages for twelve thin sections or fourteen 25mm resin blocks, or large samples. It can operate in high vacuum, low vacuum or environmental mode. SE/BSE/Cathodoluminescence imaging/tiling. Spot Analysis/Mapping/Tiling with EDS: Oxford UltimMax 170mm. Phase identification through Oxford software AzTec. Mapping with EBSD: Oxford Symmetry 3. EBSD full stage mapping available. Typically used to explore phase id, grain size and morphology distributions, grain orientation, texture, and strain deformation at 100nm to cm scale.

Jeol JXA-iHP200F fitted with 5 WDS spectrometers, 1 Jeol EDS, 1 PanCL and Transmitted/reflected Optical microscope. Cold finger and plasma cleaner available. EDS/WDS combined accurate analysis. Stage mapping allows for large areas analysis (up to 90mm^2). Thin sections (28mm x 50mm x 1.5mm) and round stubs (both 25.5mm and 30mm diameter) are suitable. The FEG source allows for trace element analysis with large probe currents (1nA to 10microA) and high-resolution imaging in conjunction with very high magnification, small area chemical analysis allowing for particles to be characterized at very high resolution.

Equipment WEMS

Electron Microscopy:
WEMS provides access to world renowned TEM equipment. As well as, complementary FIB-SEM and SEM equipment, used for samll scale sample preparation and imaging.

Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM):
WEMS provides access to three high-resolution transmission electron microscopes.

Tecnai F20 G2 X-twin (FEG-TEM):
TEM, STEM and imaging, Scanning Electron Diffraction (SED) with precession (Nanomegas) and electron tomography. In situ studies are enabled by Gatan OneView camera combined with heating (DENS Wildfire) and liquid (Protochips Poseidon) holders.

Tecnai Osiris 80-200 (STEM):
TEM imaging and fast chemical mapping in scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM). Its primary beam energy is 200keV, with a lower energy of 80 keV for materials sensitive to knock-on damage. FEIs Super-X system provides high collection (>0.9 sr solid angle) and high count rates (>250 kcps) EDS analysis. Electron Energy Loss Spectroscopy (EELS) using Gatan’s Enfinium ER 977 spectrometer allows Scan Module for Dual EELS (sequential low-loss and high-loss spectrum acquisition) and RangeEELS.

Spectra 300 (STEM):
Aberration Corrected atomic resolution, monochromated, Scanning Transmission Electron Microscope. The instrument offers EDS (Thermo Fisher Super-X) and high energy resolution EELS analysis (Gatan Continuum 1066). Magnetic imaging, Lorenz magnetic imaging, electron holography Scanning Electron Diffraction (SED) (including Quantum Detectors Merlin direct detection camera). The primary Aberration Corrected atomic resolution, monochromated, Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy (STEM). The instrument offers EDS (Thermo Fisher Super-X) and high energy resolution EELS analysis (Gatan Continuum 1066, 0.15 eV or better). A rotatable Mollenstedt-Ducker biprism allows for off-axis holography and a Lorentz lens allows field-free imaging of magnetic specimens. Scanning Electron Diffraction (SED) with precession (Nanomegas) capability includes a Quantum Detectors Merlin direct detection camera. The primary beam energy is 300 kV and the system is also aligned at 80 kV and 40 kV.

Focussed Ion Beam-Scanning Electron Microscopy (FIB-SEM):
Two dedicated FIB-SEM systems are available for sample preparation.

Helios Nanolab (FIB-SEM):
Dual beam Focused Ion Beam (FIB) Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) instrument SEM/FIB, TEM lamella sample preparation (Omniprobe), Pt, Teos, and Carbon Deposition. FIB/SEM tomography, EDS and Electron Backscattered Diffraction analysis are provided , with Oxford Instruments detectors.

CrossBeam 540 (FIB-SEM):
Dual beam Focused Ion Beam (FIB) Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) instrument SEM/FIB, Pt, Teos, and Carbon Deposition. FIB/SEM tomography.

Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM):

Gemini 300 (SEM):
SEM with Oxford Instruments X-Max and Symmetry EDS and EBSD detector systems with Aztec software.


High-resolution structural analysis:
The use of high-resolution EBSD to determine the rheological properties of rocks, minerals and ice, with applications to the study of seismotectonics, natural hazards and the dynamics of ice sheets in response to climate change.
High-resolution chemical analysis:
The use of FEG-SEM equipped with SE, BSE, CL, EDX detectors and mapping software allows for high-resolution phase identification. EMPA equipped with an FEG source and EDS, and CL detectors allow for trace element analysis with high magnification and resolution.
Sample preparation:
Sample Preparation – FEI Helios FIB, with deposition needles (Pt, Teos and C) and Omniprobe nanomanipulator for lamella removal and handling. A Gatan PIPS II is available for fine polishing of FIB samples and cross section and bulk preparation. An Allied MultiPrep wedge polishing system, cutting, grinding and electropolishing facilities are also available. The instruments provide a complete and flexible range of imaging, diffraction and analytical capabilities, including atomic-scale imaging and spectroscopy, electron tomography, holography, scanning diffraction and analysis.
Specialized TEM techniques:
The EM group has specialised in developing TEM techniques such as electron tomography, electron holography and scanning precession electron diffraction (SPED). The WEMS has commercial and research software packages and expertise for obtaining Data analysis – PCs and software, including HyperSpy, Avizo, Digital Micrograph, etc.

Processing and data acquisition software

Department of Earth Science:
ThermoFisher Maps (SE/BSE/CL imaging); AzTec (EDS, EBSD), MatLab-MTEX (EDS, EBSD); Jeol FEG EPMA – Jeol software and Probe for EPMA software.

Wolfson electron microscopy suite:
Access to propriatary manufacturers software, including Velox, TIA, INCA/AZtec, Digital Micrograph, Atlas, licenced software such as well as Avizo, Dragongly. Use of open-source software such as Hyperspy and Sigma are emphasised.

Sample preparation

Department of Earth Science:
No sample preparation is provided by the department of Earth Science. Samples must be prepared by the user according to the facility specifications prior to access.

Wolfson electron microscopy suite:
WEMS provides access to FIB-SEM preparation of samples for TEM analysis. Standard preparation procedures, such as dispersion of powder suspensions, are supported in the facility, subject to discussion with the user.

Curious to learn more?

Interested in gaining access to the EXCITE2 facilities? Please enter your email address and be one of the first to be informed when we open the first EXCITE2 call for proposals. Other questions? Contact us here.

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