Sample Preparation

Samples often require preparation prior to viewing under light and electron microscopes. The type of sample preparation depends on the sample and what you want to investigate.

Biological samples often require more complex sample preparation. We recommend you discuss sample collection and preparation with an Adelaide Microscopy staff member before proceeding. Good sample preparation is the key to success.

Please contact Adelaide Microscopy for more details regarding sample preparation equipment booking or usage.


In most cases biological samples must be dehydrated for SEM. This generally involves processing through solvents and/or use of a Critical Point Dryer, and mounting on a stub.

Most samples are then coated with a thin layer of carbon or platinum to prevent charging under the electron beam in the SEM.  Ensure your samples are individually labelled before you bring them to Adelaide Microscopy for coating. Allow at least 3 business days prior to your microscope booking. Coating is included in the per-sample processing fee. If you plan to do your microscopy offsite, there are additional fees for coating and staff assistance.

Some samples can be viewed uncoated or hydrated (wet) on the Quanta 450 in ESEM mode. Cryo techniques can also be used to preserve the structure of the sample in its natural state on the Philips XL30 SEM.


There are many sample preparation techniques for TEM; solutions can be dried on a TEM grid which has a thin film support, FIB or milling of a thin sample, etc. Biological samples for TEM generally require fixation, dehydration, embedding, and sectioning on an ultramicrotome prior to viewing in the microscope. Adelaide Microscopy staff can assist you to decide on the best approach for your aims.

Sample Preparation Equipment