We can carry out academic and industrial materials research and consulting.

The facility supports a broad range of research activity and can handle everything from chocolate to aluminium, fabrics, and biological and plant material.

We have a broad range of electron microscope and related techniques that permit imaging and analysis of specimens. See our equipment specification.

Equipment capabilities

Specimen size

Preferred size is less than 10mm x 10 mm x 5 mm, but it can be larger in some instances. Please ask.


Our equipment can magnify specimens from a minimum of about 50 X to a maximum of about 10,000,000 X.

At high magnifications it is the resolution that is normally specified, since more magnification is always possible by enlarging an image or using a bigger display.

As a rule of thumb, Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) resolution is about 10 times lower than Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM) resolution. Our best TEM can resolve (columns of) atoms.

Image analysis

There is free image analysis software available on the internet and lots of tutorials and help available, so we do not normally provide this capability.

We recommend ImageJ software. Downloadable distributions are available for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and the Sharp Zaurus PDA. The source code for ImageJ is freely available.

Element composition

All the electron microscopes have elemental analysis capability. (But EDS analysis is not very accurate for light elements and cannot detect the four lightest elements (H, He, Li or Be)).

Chemical analysis

2 of the TEMs and the Thermo K-alpha X-Ray Photo-electron Spectrometer can give chemical bonding information about the specimen.

Structural information

All TEMs can be operated in diffraction mode to give structural information of specimens.

The FEI Nova NanoSEM FEGSEM can give crystallinity information of the surface of a specimen by using its HKL Electron BackScatter Diffraction (EBSD) camera and software.

Particle analysis

(e.g. particle shape and particle size distribution)

SEMs and TEMs are both able to image microscopic particles allowing the shape to be seen. While it is also possible to take many images and determine a particle size distribution from those particles imaged, a statistically better distribution can be obtained for liquid suspensions by using the Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS) technique available on the ALV Fast DLS instrument. Particles must be prepared into a dilute suspension. Size range is from 1 nm to 1000 nm.


SEM high vacuum

  • Secondary electron imaging
  • Backscatter electron imaging
  • X-ray imaging (mapping)
  • EDS (or EDX, X-ray elemental analysis) of points (min. 2 microns across, or areas up to 1 mm square)
  • CryoSEM

SEM low vacuum (Pressure range 0.1 mbar to 1 mbar, water vapour)

  • Secondary electron imaging
  • Backscatter electron imaging
  • EDS (or EDX, X-ray elemental analysis)

SEM environmental

  • Secondary electron imaging
  • Backscatter electron imaging

Microscopy Australia technique finder

You can use the technique finder at Microscopy Australia to identify techniques available through Microscopy Australia that suit your project.

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Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.