Electron and X-ray Microscopy

A full multi-scale workflow of innovative scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) techniques, as well as an X-ray microscopy (XRM) system, are used to understand the micro-physical basis of Earth-material properties. These instruments come together in the Utrecht University Electron Microscopy Centre and the Multi-scale Imaging and Tomography Facility (MINT) as part of EPOS-NL and NEMI.

We use electron backscattered diffraction (EBSD) in the SEM to map the crystal orientations and textures of geological materials and ice (cryo-EBSD); cathodoluminescence to probe defect structures and chemistry of a wide range of microstructures; and focused ion beam (FIB)-SEM tomography to study materials in three-dimensions, for example, pore or fracture networks.

Automated mineralogy mapping using energy-dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) and wavelength-dispersive spectroscopy analysis (WDS) in the microprobe allow us to determine mineral compositions as well as the reconstruction of bulk rock compositions. Via FIB-SEM nanomanipulation we obtain electron transparent foils for TEM analysis to study structure, composition and processes in Earth materials down to the atomic scale.

We also use innovative computational approaches such as machine learning to extract quantitative information from two- and three-dimensional microstructural datasets. For this, we have several high-powered computer workstations.

Scanning Electron Microscopes:

  1. FEI (now Thermo Fisher) Helios G3 Nanolab FIB-SEM with EDS, EBSD, cryo-stage, panchromatic and wavelength filtered CL
  2. Zeiss Gemini 450 variable pressure SEM with EDS, EBSD, cryo-stage, panchromatic and wavelength-filtered CL
  3. Zeiss EVO 15 environmental SEM with Peltier cooling stage, EDS and automated mineralogy
  4. JEOL Neoscope II JCM-6000 table-top SEM with EDS

Transmission Electron Microscopes:

  1. Thermo Fisher Spectra 300 monochromated, double-aberration corrected (S)TEM with high-sensitivity EDS and electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS)
  2. Thermo Fisher Talos F200X: 200 kV (S)TEM with HAADF, EDS and electron tomography
  3. Several additional TEMs including cryo-systems


  1. JEOL JXA-8530F Hyperprobe Field Emission Electron probe microanalyser, equipped with 5 WDS spectrometers, SDD ED system, CL system (panchromatic imaging and xCLent hyperspectral CL). Booking

X-ray microscopy and tomography:

  1. Zeiss Xradia 610 Versa high-resolution X-ray tomography microscope system equipped with a 160kV high-energy, high-power microfocus X-ray source, several high-contrast detectors and a large flat panel detector as well as in situ experimental capabilities.

Additional specialist equipment:

  • Atomic Force Microscope (Bruker MultiMode 3)
  • Several workstations for image analysis including GPU clusters
  • Several ion beam polishing systems


Electron Microscopy


X-ray microscopy and tomography


See also: https://www.uu.nl/en/research/department-of-earth-sciences/collaboration/epos-nl

The microscopes are temporarily housed in the Androclus building. They will be moved to a new high-end facility in the David de Wied building in 2021.