1. Consult. Consider a preliminary consultation with the EM staff at no charge to help with project planning, including instrument capability, sample-preparation method, and cost estimate.
2. Contact. Let us know your project is coming. The best way to contact the EM Core is by email: firstname.lastname@example.org will reach both director Scott Payne and lab manager Jayma Moore. Provide as much information as possible about your project:
a. How many samples will you have?
b. What type of samples are they? Describe, e.g. dry powder, coated metal, polymer, mechanical parts, liposomes in liquid, etc. Identify the solvent, if any.
c. How should they be prepared? We have years of experience, but value your input based on either your own work or publications citing related studies. If we have done similar projects for you in the past, please provide sample or image numbers or a date when the work was done. NOTE: samples containing any bacteria, fungi, viruses, or biologics must be appropriately fixed. Check with us in advance to be sure your protocol is suitable. We can provide advice as well as fixative and containers if needed.
d. What type of analysis do you need? Scanning (regular or field-emission) or transmission (regular or high-resolution) electron microscopy, EDS (energy-dispersive spectroscopy for elemental analysis), microCT. If you’re not sure, we can help you decide. What are you expecting to see (e.g., 50-nm spherical particles, fungal hyphae within cells, cracks/porosity)? Images from published work, your own or that of others, are helpful. If you need specific magnifications or image types, please specify (e.g., 500X and 2000X secondary and backscatter SEM images; DICOM stack from microCT scan), even if you have done similar work in the past.
3. Funding. Billing information is expected with every sample set, by the time of sample submission. Secure current, accurate, complete funding information for payment purposes from your departmental accounts technician (in consultation with your advisor, for students). Some departments also require an internal PO number. A form can be emailed to you and also is available on the EM website (https://www.ndsu.edu/em_lab/services/). Billing information must be resubmitted each month. You can email it (taking a picture of the form with your phone is fine) or deliver it with your samples.
4. Delivery. Drop off your samples in the lobby of the Northern Crop Science Laboratory, 1307 N. 18 Street, between 8:00 am and 4:30 p.m. when the outside door on the left is unlocked. The lab is closed for University holidays. Samples go on the table at the right side of the lobby, beneath the wall phone. The nearby heater fan moves a lot of air, so use the large rock inscribed “NDSU Electron Microscopy” to weigh down your samples/form. Be sure samples are clearly labeled and properly contained. If you have not already submitted the billing form, please deliver it with your samples.
5. Notification. Email or call to let the staff know that your samples have been delivered, especially if they are time- or temperature-sensitive and you have made prior arrangements for any special handling needed.
6. Results. Generally projects are completed in the order they are received. Your results (images, EDS files, microCT data) will be shared with you as soon as possible via NDSU Secure File Transfer link. Please download and save your data to a secure location for permanent storage as the NDSU link expires automatically in a few days. Reassembly of data sets and creation of new links at a later date requires more staff time and may incur an additional charge.
7. Questions? If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email or call us. Thank you.