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Utrecht University

UU Electron and X-ray Microscopy

The electron and X-ray microscopy centre at Utrecht University (UU) has been a focal point and driving force for material research across the disciplines of physics, chemistry, biology and earth sciences in the Netherlands for more than 30 years. Beyond the involvement in the UU microscopy facility, the Earth materials group hosts a brand-new X-ray tomography system.


The UU EM facility provides external access to one focused ion beam-scanning electron microscope (FIB-SEM), equipped with varies chemical and crystallographic detectors, three transmission electron microscopes (TEM), equipped with state-of-the-art imaging and chemistry detectors. Moreover, the facility hosts two scanning electron microscopes (SEM), equipped with high-throughput chemical and crystallographic analysis systems and environmental and cryogenic imaging capabilities. As polarised thin sections microscopy is the first diagnostic steps in earth material investigations, UU also provides an automated optical scanning system with a giga- pixel resolution and full polarization-rotation capabilities that directly interfaces into EM sample navigations. For on-site image processing, UU provides three multi-core workstations.

Together, these instruments provide all necessities for the multi-scale analysis of earth materials. 

UU has extensive electron microscopy and laboratory facilities which allow for sample preparation, chemical and crystallographic analysis at micrometre- to nanometre-scale. This includes SEMs with automated mineralogy and electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD), an electron microprobe (EMP), several FIB-SEMs and analytical TEMs. The Department of Earth Science which is a member of UU EM has an advanced infrastructure and expertise in nanogeosciences, mineralogy, petrology, rock deformation as well as ample knowledge in running European projects and large-scale infrastructures. 

Sustainable travel policy

Utrecht University wants to be CO2 neutral by 2030. This also means making travel behaviour more sustainable. UU employees are motivated to take the train instead of a plane when traveling within 700 km’s and under 8 hours. We highly recommend visitors to our facilities to make similar smart choices.


Nanoscale manipulation of earth materials: The facility has strong expertise in the preparation of micrometre-sized specimens via FIB-SEM nanomanipulation techniques. Through this, site-specific samples across areas of interest on earth material surfaces can be prepared for subsequent investigation within a TEM. We also offer, to some extent, targeted nanomanipulation of samples for synchrotron-based nanoscale characterisation techniques and atom probe tomography.
Three-dimensional, nanoscale visualisation: UU has extensive knowledge in image acquisition, visualisation and interpretation for nanoscale-resolved, three-dimensional analysis of earth materials. These techniques encompass FIB-SEM and TEM-based tomography.
Crystallographic analysis of earth materials: UU offers a quantitative characterisation of earth materials employing EBSD from various geological environments. A focus is on the study of deformed materials to determine, e.g., microscale failure mechanisms of rocks and their mineral constituents.
Automated crystallography and mineralogy: UU hosts a state-of-the-art SEM and EMP infrastructure that is able to automatically analyse geological thin sections for its mineralogy, crystallography and microstructure at a high-throughput of up to one thin section-type sample per day.

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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