Electron microscopes

Hello good people,

A short question, to whit how expensive/practicable and maintainable is an Electron Microscope in a domestic environment?

The last time I used one was in a University thirty years ago and the individual machines were all in the same part of the building possibly sharing a common power and aircon system, incidentally each was named after different Saturnian moons!

Obviously a bit more complex than most domestic ‘appliances’ but one for the Dope.


We were loaned a fairly modern SEM where I used to work. For some odd reason it was set up to require 30A 115VAC. I think someone told the European manufacturer that Americans want everything 115V. 15A 230 or 208 would have been far cheaper and easier. Hardest part was finding NEC compliant plug and receptical.

The other thing to watch out for is vibration. Having an isolated concrete slab is best case. Wooden joist floor with lots of foot traffic probably won’t work at all. Ours ended up on a shared slab with an 8 ton chiller running just on the other side of an exterior wall, but not on the slab. We never had any problems suspected to be vibration related.

There is quite a bit to setting one up. We ended up having a tech from the manufacturer (or maybe US sales agent) come out for a couple days to commission it.

Thanks for that Kevbo, along with floor stability I seem to remember power stability, air quality/purity, set up, goes for granted!

How large a room, how large/stable a Power supply/Windows programme to utilize o/p.


We have a JEOL JSM-6510LV SEM in our lab, along with an EDAX EDS system. We purchased it a couple years ago to replace another unit. I think the purchase price was around $250K for the SEM, and $100K for the EDS. We’ve also purchased two maintenance plans that we renew every year, one for the SEM ($12K/year) and one for the EDS ($12K/year).

Would an atomic force microscope do? There were “personal AFMs” years ago that fit on a desktop for around twenty grand.

You get different “looking” images from and AFM and a SEM, though the AFM I work on in lab is basically desktop with a floor module for processing (there’s a diagram on that page).

I think it would be cool to have a personal AFM.

We have one at the public high school where I teach. It was donated when some lab upgraded. We cannot afford to keep it operational: at one point, we had a donor who paid for the maintenance, but that has stopped, and it’s basically defunct now. This makes us sad.

We didn’t have any sort of air filtration. In fact there was an exterior door that didn’t seal well adjacent to the unsealed doors to the SEM room.

I suspect that clean room requirements are more to
Protect the samples than the SEM. It didn’t seem all that fussy to me. The sputtering system was much higher maintainence, though much lower tech.