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1. FEI Quanta 200 Scanning Electron Microscope with Energy Dispersive X-Ray Microanalysis

 FEI Quanta 200

Why would You want to Use this Microscope: The SEM offers much greater depth of field, resolution, and much greater range of magnification (from about 40 to 50,000x) than light microscopy. The SEM images surface features. The low vacuum and ESEM modes of imaging require little or no specimen preparation thereby eliminating time and potential artifacts due to chemical fixation, drying and sputter coating.


1. Our Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) is capable of three different modes of SEM imaging:

Conventional SEM (CSEM): CSEM involves the greatest amount of specimen preparation where typical fragile biological specimens are often fixed in aqueous fixatives like glutaraldehyde, dehydrated in ethanols, dried chemically or in a critical point dryer, mounted on stubs, and then sputter coated with gold/palladium so they become conductive to SEM beam electrons. Robust specimens like hard sclerotized beetles or ants can be air dried and then sputter coated.

Low Vacuum (LV): The Quanta 200 is a variable pressure SEM that uses a series of pressure apertures that can allow normal very high vacuum levels (low pressures) for the electron gun, but much higher pressures (much weaker vacuum) in the specimen area. The actual surface imaging in secondary electron mode is enhanced by water vapor molecules that lead to an amplified cascade of secondary electrons that are detected. Since water is actually necessary for imaging here, it means that specimens do not have to be completely dry. Also specimens do not have to be coated. While contrast levels of photographs maybe lower than specimens observed in CSEM, this can often be addressed by post-processing images in Adobe Photoshop. We find that back-scattered electron imaging with suitably adjusted analog and digital scope contrast often minimizes the need for Photoshop enhancement. LV mode greatly speeds up the imaging process and essentially wet or dry specimens like plant parts, hard insects, clam shells, rocks, cotton fibers, diatoms, foraminiferans, etc. can be imaged directly. A further benefit of variable pressure SEM is that charging is greatly minimized by the water vapor.

Environmental SEM (ESEM): The Quanta 200 possesses a specialized gaseous secondary electron detector (GSED) that bears a terminal aperture that allows pressures to achieve up to 20 Torr (2.6% of one atmosphere). Typically we get best results at 5 Torr (0.66 % of one atmosphere) and 2 degrees centigrade specimen temperature. ESEM allows not only the direct imaging of wet specimens but also the maintenance of specimens under user controlled humidity levels that can keep the specimen hydrated. At 5 Torr and 2oC, specimens are maintained at 95% Relative Humidity. Thus ESEM is a good choice for observing fragile live or recently dead specimens directly with or without fixation and with no dehydration or drying at all, thus saving considerable specimen processing time and dehydration/drying artifacts. Careful subtle microscope adjustments and also post-processing of the digital images in Adobe Photoshop (levels and smart sharpen) can result in excellent images in terms of detail and contrast.

2. Our SEM also includes an Oxford Inca x-act energy dispersive x-ray elemental detector for routine microanalysis of elements including Boron and above. This is a very useful tool for Geology and has potential for use in Biology. For example, some insects like Fire Ants strengthen their mandibular tips with Zinc. In our scope you can view the lighter Zinc tips in backscattered mode and you can confirm the presence of Zinc and Chlorine in the tips with the Inca x-act. The software is quite easy and intuitive to use and reports are easily made in Microsoft Word.

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2. Philips (FEI) CM12 Transmission Electron Microscope

 Philips (FEI) CM122 Why would You want to Use this Microscope: The TEM offers much greater resolution, and much greater magnification (routinely up to 200,000 times magnification) than light microscopy. Using ultrathin sections of biological material, resolution is down to greater than organelle level and is capable of imaging nano-particles (< 100 nm). Images are captured by the AMT XR50 5 megapixel digital camera. The extremely sensitive camera allows convenient visual scanning of the specimen on the monitor.

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3. Olympus IX2-DSU Tandem Spinning-Disk Confocal Compound Light Microscope

 Olympus IX2-DSU Tandem Why would You want to Use this Microscope: The Olympus IX2-DSU Motorized Inverted Microscope with Spinning Disk Confocal is ideally suited for imaging live fluorescently labeled tissues due to its rapid image acquisition and reduced photobleaching as compared to traditional laser based confocal fluorescent systems. The system is equipped with motorized Z, X, and Y stages as well as full 3D deconvolution and 3D rendering capabilities. With an objective lens set from 4x to 100x, the confocal microscope is able to resolve everything from large specimens to sub-cellular structures. The microscope is entirely software controlled which allows for ease and speed of use, automatic savings of all image-related metadata, and sophisticated 3D imaging, stereology and other morphometric analysis.

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4. Zeiss Axio Observer .Z1 Compound Light Inverted Microscope with DIC and Epifluorescence

 Zeiss Axio Why would You want to Use this Microscope: This is a research grade microscope with differential interference optics (DIC) and epifluorescence. The standard stage can be replaced with a gliding stage for microinjections into nematodes.

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5. Leica DMR Compound Light Microscope with DIC Imaging

 Leica DMR Compound Light Microscope Why would You want to Use this Microscope: The Leica DMR has fabulous DIC (Differential Interference Contrast) optics which can provide exceptional contrast to lightly stained and unstained sections from 0.5 to 10 μm plus in thickness (thin to ultrathin sections). It can also provide contrast for small whole structures as well, like insect eggs. The image on the monitor is a scan with the 20x objective lens and DIC of rat testis lightly stained with feulgen.

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6. Olympus BX-41 Compound Light Microscope with Phase and Fluorescence Imaging

 Olympus BX-41 Compound Light Microscope Why would You want to Use this Microscope: The Olympus BX-41 is an easy to use, research grade compound light microscope with brightfield, darkfield, phase and reflective fluorescent optics. Phase is superb for viewing ultramicrotome thick sections (approximately 1 μm thick), live sperm and many other subjects requiring contrast enhancement. Reflective epifluorescence is extremely valuable in cell biology for detection of differentially labeled proteins and DNA in cells and tissues. Brightfield is essential for much normal compound light microscopy. The Olympus DP72 camera and Cell-sens software provide exceptional imaging, montaging and specimen measurement.

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7. Olympus SZX7 Stereo Light Microscope with X-Cite Series 120 Q Epifluorescence Illumination for GFP

 Olympus SZX7 Dissecting Stereo Microscope Why would You want to Use this Microscope: This is a research grade stereo scope with total magnifications from 8-56x at the oculars. Besides the great optics and true color and resolution of the DP72 camera, this microscope excels in the great versatility of illumination. Reflected brightfield is from a halogen light source with articulating goose neck probes. Brightfield transillumination (lighting from below for transparent to translucent specimens) includes two brightfield variations, darkfield, and oblique illumination. The partially translucent anterior half of the first instar of the predacious mayfly, Dolania americana is shown in the monitor as imaged from a slide mounted specimen with darkfield lighting. Oblique lighting uses an adjustable mirror to deflect light at different angles onto your specimen. Such lighting for example is perfect for live zebra fish embryos. Finally, fluorescent imaging is possible with the X-Cite Series 120Q illumination source and GFP (Green Fluorescence Protein) cube. There is room for 2 other cubes in the future.

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8. Leica EZ4 HD: Stereo Light Microscope

 Leica EZ4 HD Stereo Light Microscope Why would You want to Use this Microscope: This is our favorite stereo light microscope for low magnification images (8-35x at the ocular lenses) of a wide range of subjects. It is probably the easiest scope to use in part due to the fantastic integral LED lighting both from above (reflective lighting) and below (transillumination of relatively clear specimens like insect wings). The integrated camera is exceptionally easy to use with the Leica EZ software, which allows incorporation of scale bars and other annotations. Measurement of specimens is very intuitive. Shown on the monitor is an active low magnification scan from this microscope of the Ailanthus Webworm Moth, Atteva punctella.

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9. Leica MZ125 Stereo Light Microscope with Leica Camera IC80HD

Leica MZ125 Stereo Light Microscope  Why would You want to Use this Microscope: This is a research grade stereo microscope with total magnifications at the ocular lenses of 8-100x. With the Leica IC80 HD camera and Leica LAS Version 4.0 software, photomicrographs with scale bars and other annotations are easily made, and measurements are easily obtained. Shown on the monitor is an active high magnification scan from this microscope of wing scales from the Ailanthus Webworm Moth, Atteva punctella.

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10. Zeiss Stemi 2000-C on a Boom-stand

 Zeiss Stemi 2000-C Why would You want to Use this Microscope: This stereo scope on a boom-stand is ideal for situations requiring a large reach over say a large pan for sorting specimens like insects, plants, and others. Magnification is from a low of 6.5x (great for sorting) to a high of 50x, which is necessary for specimen identification.

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11. Nikon Eclipse TE200 Inverted Compound Light Microscope with Phase Optics

 Nikon Eclipse TE200 Inverted Compound Light Microscope Why would You want to Use this Microscope: This research grade microscope currently possesses 10x and 20x phase objectives with 15.2 and 7.4 mm of working distance. It is also coupled with a 2x optivar. We hope to acquire a power supply, additional objectives, and a camera in the near future.

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12. Nikon D5100 Digital SLR camera, with 40 and 55 mm macro lenses and a Sigma EM-140 DG Macro Flash

 Nikon D5100 Digital SLR camera Why would You want to Use this Camera: An SLR camera with a macro lens essentially spans the magnification range from what your eye observes to the low end magnification range of a stereo microscope.

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