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In accordance with the NINT mandate, the Electron Microscopy (EM) Lab engages in collaborative scientific research projects; continually develops and expands the capabilites of the instruments in order to position NINT at the forefront of nanoscience and nanoengineering; and delivers technical services on a fee for service basis;.

All of the NINT microscopes are situated in specially-designed characterization suites that minimize environmental disturbances and ensure optimal performance.

A staff of seven professional microscopists are available to assist clients with their projects.

Accessing The Facility

Our client-driven projects vary in scope from small fee for service contracts to large research and development collaborations. Preference is given to extensive high-impact projects that are well-aligned with the NINT goals.

Charges apply for most activities. Clients may negotiate for inkind support in order to cover beam time costs. For further information please contact the NINT business office

Quantitative Electron Microscopy Research at NINT

The Quantitative Electron Microscopy (QEM) Project led by Dr. Marek Malac endeavors to extend the boundaries of practical electron microscopy. One of the goals the QEM Project is the development of new instrumentation and methods for EM data interpretation. Dr Malac’s team works closely with the facilties staff to transfer this knowledge to client projects.

Hitachi Electron Microscope Products Development Centre

Established in 2011, NINT’s $15 million Hitachi Electron Microscopy Products Centre (HEMiC) was created in order to accelerate the commercialization of NINT microscope innovations by utilizing Hitachi’s product development and technical sales expertise. HEMiC was made possible through collaboration involving NINT, the Alberta Ingenuity Fund’s nanoWorks program, the University of Alberta, and Hitachi High Technologies Canada Inc.

Through the HEMiC agreement, three microscopes were installed in the Facility: the H-9500 ETEM; the S-5500 SEM; and the NB-5000 FIB/SEM. Prior to the installations, extensive modifications were made to the existing building to create an environment with extremely low mechanical, acoustic, electromagnetic, and thermal disturbances. This environment is ideal for conducting materials science research at the nanoscale, and provides an optimal venue for potential clients to experience and explore the latest Hitachi instruments prior to purchase.


The facility is home to 3 transmission electron microscopes (TEMs), 3 scanning electron microscopes (SEMs), and 2 focused ion beam (FIB) microscopes.

As a general rule, the TEMs, FIBs, and the S-5500 SEM operate in an assisted access mode. This is done in order to ensure optimal performance of the instruments and minimize the risks associated with expensive and delicate multi-user equipment. Training and self-use on these instruments is considered on a case by case basis.

The S-4800 and S-3000N SEMs operate in both self-use and assisted access modes.

JEOL 2200 FS Soft Materials TEM

This is a 200kV Schottky field emission instrument is equipped with an in-column filter, which allows acquisition energy filtered images and diffraction patterns to be collected both on image plates and slow scan CCD camera. The Schottky source of this instrument is sufficiently robust to allow analysis of organic samples.

Techniques that can be used include:

  1. Cryogenic TEM imaging in both conventional parallel beam and scanning modes
  2. Electron Energy Loss Spectroscopy (EELS) at moderate energy resolution, and convenient energy filtering, diffraction and imaging
  3. Energy-filtering Electron Diffraction, both with parallel beam and convergent beam modes
  4. Cryogenic and high-tilt imaging and electron tomography at ~ 0.3 nm resolution
  5. Energy dispersive chemical analysis and mapping

A wide range of holders and detectors are available for this instrument.

Materials Science Transmission Electron Microscope Hitachi HF 3300

This advanced 300kV TEM/STEM instrument is equipped with a post-column Gatan Tridiem Image Filter (GIF).

Its cold field emission gun (CFEG) technology delivers superior spectroscopic performance with outstanding electron interferometry capabilities.

The combination of quantitative electron microscopy techniques sets this instrument apart from the rest.

The excellent flexibility and stability of the microscope – mechanical and electrical – allows researchers to push the limits of electron microscopy and analyze extremely difficult samples and problems.

This microscope is primarily designed for work on materials science samples using these techniques:

  1. High resolution TEM imaging (HR TEM) in both conventional (parallel beam) and scanning (STEM) modes
  2. High-energy Resolution Electron Energy Loss Spectroscopy (HREELS) with ~ 0.2 nm probe size and significant beam current
  3. Off-axis electron holography, three beam interferometry and STEM holography
  4. Electron diffraction both with parallel beam (the CFEG source allows for parallel beam work with very small probe sizes) and convergent beam modes
  5. Energy Dispersive Spectrometry (EDS) chemical analysis and mapping

A wide range of holders and detectors are available for this instrument.