Lab-grown dolomite, a translucent mineral, image produced by Sarah Smith and James Torres.

This electron microscopy image of a lab-grown dolomite mineral was produced by geology doctoral student Sarah Smith with false-color processing performed by physics graduate student James Torres.

Last year, the University of Missouri made a major investment in imaging equipment housed at the Electron Microscopy Advanced Technology Core (EMC) in the Roy Blunt NextGen Precision Health building. This world-class instrumentation, brought to Mizzou in collaboration with Thermo Fisher Scientific, gives researchers the highest resolution imaging in both the life sciences and materials science.

“Very few institutions in the country offer atomic-scale resolution imaging for both life and materials science research housed in the same microscopy facility,” said DeAna Grant, EMC interim director and one of three full-time research specialists who provide core services. “The EMC houses eight advanced electron microscopes that can help researchers with everything from a single particle analysis to large-volume 3D modeling of organic and inorganic samples.”

Previously located at the Veterinary Medicine Building, the EMC has supported internal and external academic researchers, federal research lab investigators and industry clientele for more than 25 years. The core’s new home in the basement level of NextGen includes more than 6,400 square feet of preparation laboratories, customized imaging suites and office space.

What services does the EMC provide?
The EMC is a resource center for transmission and scanning electron microscopy, elemental analysis and structural determination. In addition to training opportunities and access to instrumentation, investigators can take advantage of free consultation services during all stages of a project.

What research capabilities does the EMC offer?
EMC’s instrumentation can be used to analyze and visualize a wide variety of materials and samples including: 

  • Biological samples, nanoparticles and polymers (JEOL JEM-1400).
  • Atomic resolution of both soft and hard materials, 3D characterization of specimen structure and composition for materials science (Spectra 300).
  • Life science and structural biology single-particle analysis, microelectron diffraction and cryo-electron tomography for 3D modeling (Krios G4 and Aquilos 2).
  • Surface-sensitive imaging, microanalysis of nonconductive media and in-situ characterization of the samples under heating or electric bias (Quanta 600F).
  • Large-volume 3D modeling for the life sciences with serial-block face imaging and high-resolution structural changes (VolumeScope).
  • Chemical and isotope species identification and analysis of radioactive materials (DualBeam FIBSEM platforms and Hydra Plasma FIB).

How are MU faculty using EMC instruments in their research?

  • Brandi MacDonald, who holds a joint appointment as an assistant research professor in anthropology and the MU Research Reactor’s Archaeometry Laboratory, worked with EMC Senior Research Technician David Stalla to understand how hunter-gatherers in North America mined red ochre and created ochre paint used in rock art, jewelry, hide tanning and other applications.
  • Zezong Gu, professor of pathology and anatomical sciences, and Grant have been using EMC instruments to analyze ultrastructural abnormalities in brain cells following traumatic brain injuries. In the future, they will be producing 3D models to better understand blast-related brain injuries for a VA-funded study. 
  • Michael Chapman, professor and Wurdack Chair of Biochemistry, uses cryo-electron microscopy and other platforms to study viral-host interactions and enzyme dynamics, and his new colleague Clarissa Durie, assistant professor of biochemistry, will be using the EMC to study protein function in bacterial pathogenesis. 
  • Matthias Young, assistant professor of chemical engineering, and EMC Senior Research Specialist Xiaoqing He co-developed a cryo electron diffraction method to study electron-beam-sensitive nanocrystalline materials in the lithium ion battery. 
  • Chad Xing, Cramer W. LaPierre Professor of Chemical Engineering, heavily utilized high-resolution transmission electron microscopy imaging and spectroscopy to verify the metal oxides coating layer on various substrates.

How do researchers request EMC services?
Researchers must be registered users of the EMC's online calendar system, Facility Online Manager, to reserve instrument time. For more information, see the policies and procedures page, contact 573-882-8304 or email a staff member.