The core is committed to transmission electron microscopy of samples larger than 250 KDa, with the goal of image reconstruction at better than 1nm resolution. The facility’s three electron microscopes provide a progression of capability, from the Tecnai Spirit for initial screening of negative-stained samples, to the Tecnai F20 for preliminary electron cryomicroscopy, to the advanced Titan Krios, which is dedicated to automated data collection for high-resolution analysis.

The primary techniques used here are:

Electron Cryo-Microscopy (Cryo-EM)

  • unstained, unfixed samples
  • single particles from solutions with potential resolution < 1nm
  • helical and two-dimensional crystals
  • some atomic models rival X-ray crystallography and NMR

Electron Cryo-Tomography (CET)

  • 3-D maps of non-regular structures, larger cellular complexes and cell sections
  • uses tilt series to generate 3-D structure
  • resolution 3-4 nm for irregular structures, higher for regular structures


The MEMC is now providing limited data analysis services, and can give guidance and suggestions for independent data processing.

FEI Vitrobot freezing sample in ethaneUsing the facilities

Trained researchers can use microscopes themselves. Alternatively, MEMC personnel can assist researchers in collecting images.

Please contact Kelly Dryden ( to discuss how best to use the facility to aid your project. A project application will be required, at which time access to the scheduling system will be provided.

Clients will need to provide a 4Tb-8Tb USB storage drive for multi-day data collection on the Titan Krios. Images collected on the Spirit or F20 will accessible by download from a remote server.

Sample preparation

Researchers can freeze samples manually in liquid ethane or using an FEI Vitrobot. Several options are also available for negative-staining.

Typical sample requirements per gird are 3 µL at concentrations of 0.1-1.0 mg/ml.