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Frequently Asked Questions

Here, you find some answers of your questions

What is Umeå Core Facility for Electron Microscopy (UCEM)?

Umeå Core Facility for Electron Microscopy or UCEM is a joint resource for research and higher education in electron microscopy techniques. The Core Facility is a USER facility for structural and chemical characterization of materials at micro- and nanometer length scales. The aims of the Core Facility are to (1) provide high-quality service and technical assistance in scanning and transmission electron microscopy, (2) conduct basic and practical courses, workshops and training on electron microscopy, and (3) assist in cross-disciplinary research activities on the development and applications of advanced methodologies in electron microscopy and microanalysis.

Where is UCEM located?

For postal and delivery: Umeå Core Facility Electron Microscopy (or EM Platform), Chemical Biological Centre (KBC) Building, House B, Level 5, Umeå University, SE-90187 Umeå, Sweden
Staff members: Nikki Lee (Office room: B5-41-07), Sara Henriksson (Office room: B5-43-01), Agnieszka Ziolkowska (Office room: B5-43-01)
Laboratories: SEM (B5-43-07), TEM (B6-43-07), SEM & TEM sample preparation (B5-39-01, B5-41-01, B5-39-07)
For general enquiries: nikki.lee@umu.se / +46 90 786 93 44

What is available in UCEM?

Instruments available in UCEM can be found on the UCEM website: Facilities and Services. In brief, the main services available in UCEM include specimen preparation for SEM and TEM, and electron microscopic characterization of materials and biological samples.

Where can I find information on UCEM facilities policies?

Detailed UCEM facilities policies can be found on the UCEM website: Information for User. Before accessing the facilities, all potential users are advised to read and agree to comply with the rules and regulations of the Core Facility.

I need to access the UCEM facilities, what are the procedures?

There are a few advisable steps to follow i.e. (1) figure out as much as possible about your samples and decide which instruments to use (discuss with your supervisor and colleagues and/or read from scientific reference papers); (2) new user who wants to use the microscopes should contact UCEM personnel; (3) obtain a copy of Project Form/Authorization Agreement + Risk Assessment from UCEM personnel; (4) complete the User & Project Details section in the form; (5) attain consent from your supervisor; (6) read the instrument handbook/manual provided by UCEM personnel; (7) once approved, training on requested instruments will be provided by UCEM personnel; (8) undergo different level of certificates as qualified user; and (9) maintain user qualification.

What are the charges/fees for using the instruments?

All instruments in UCEM are charged accordingly. Rates are different for academic and non-academic users. The user fee can be obtained from the UCEM website: Access Charges.

How/when can payment be made?

A user fee must be paid in order to access the instrument. The fees will be billed every half a year to the respective department/company.

Does UCEM provide basic course and practical on Electron Microscopy?

Yes. Normally, UCEM will conduct basic and practical courses on Electron Microscopy (SEM/TEM) for materials and life sciences once or twice every year. In addition, UCEM also organizes demonstrations and workshops on Electron Microscopy, but are run subjected to demand.

I am not academic staff/research student from Umeå University, can I still use the UCEM facilities?

Yes. User fees for academic users from other universities will be the same as those from Umeå University. For non-academic users, the fees will be charged marginally higher. Academic and non-academic users will be given options either to use the instruments on their own after undertaken proper training or require assistance from UCEM personnel.

My superior/supervisor wants me to obtain training for the instruments, what are the user training procedures?

New user who wants to use the microscopes should contact UCEM personnel. The basic user training procedures include (1) attend and complete basic course on electron microscopy and/or have previous EM experience ; (2) pass written electron microscopy examination; (3) undergo three (or five, if necessary) training sessions (4 hours each session) and (4) obtain certificate from UCEM personnel.

Can I get trained on practice samples instead of my own samples?

It is advisable to get trained on the requested instrument using user's samples. However, it is not compulsory. There are two matters to consider when using practice samples such that (1) by the time users have prepared their own samples, they may have forgotten the operation of the instrument and need to be retrained; and (2) users may not learn how to optimize the instrument conditions for the type of samples they are interested in and need to be retrained. In short, repeat training sessions can be a waste of valuable time for both user and UCEM personnel.

If I need additional supplies for specimen preparation, where/how can I get them?

Basic supplies for specimen preparation are provided as listed on the UCEM website: Facilities and Services. If there is a need for additional consumable products, users are advised to discuss with UCEM personnel.

How/when can I make booking on the instruments?

Once users have undertaken and passed required training on their requested instrument, they are qualified to access the instrument independently. Users can make instrument booking (with username and password) from the UCEM website: Assessing UCEM. Users are allowed to reserve an instrument for 2- to 4- hours per session, 1- to 2- sessions per week based on first-come-first-serve basis, and subjected to instrument conditions and availability.

I understand that it will take a long time to learn the instruments, can the UCEM staff do it for me?

It is comprehensible that much of the research work carried out in UCEM could not be done on service basis. The assistance provided by UCEM personnel are reserved for academic and non-academic users with relatively short-term projects (less than 3 months) and for those who do not intend to use the instruments regularly. For long-term projects, the academic staff/research students are advised to learn and use the instruments on their own. This practice is advantageous as many users can be trained and the use of the instruments is not limited by the availability of the UCEM personnel.

Does the UCEM staff do collaborative project?

Yes. UCEM staff members can involve in collaborative research projects depending on the required expertise and the facilities available. Users who are interested in working with UCEM personnel on their projects can approach them and discuss in-person.

Do I have to acknowledge UCEM in my written communications and oral presentations?

Yes, this is important. The written communications and oral presentations citing UCEM are essential metric by which the performance of UCEM is judged and it enables the UCEM staff to continue supporting users and expanding the facilities. Examples of acknowledgement can be obtained from the UCEM website: Information for User. In addition, all users are requested to give a complete list of their publications/presentations and/or reprints of any publications/theses/books that contains images and data recorded in UCEM. If necessary, UCEM will pay for the hard copy of the theses/books. A reminder email requesting these details will be sent out to users once per year.

Can I book as many sessions/as much time as I need on the instrument?

No. To accommodate as many users as possible, regular daytime access is limited to a maximum of 4 hours per session and 2 sessions per week on each instrument. If users have made reservations exceeding these restrictions, they will be asked to reschedule their booking by UCEM personnel.