How do I get training on the microscopes?

First you need to register as a user of the EMU. Once your registration is complete you will be trained by an EMU staff member to use the instrument or instruments which are required for the work you need to do. We have three levels of user:

  • Trainee – your bookings are made by a member of staff and you are learning how to use the instrument.
  • Independent – you have completed your training and are able to make bookings yourself during standard working hours (8am to 5pm Monday to Friday).
  • Expert – you have developed significant experience in the operation of the instrument and have been given after-hours access.

What documents or information do I need to bring to the first meeting?

In the first meeting the EMU staff member will ask you a series of questions about your specimen and your research project. These include:

  • What is your specimen?
  • What do you want to find out about it (e.g. morphology, composition, crystallography etc)?
  • How many samples do you expect to have?
  • When do you expect to complete your microscopy?

The first place to look for answers to these questions is the scientific literature. It is very helpful if you can bring a few papers to your meeting which show results similar to those you want to achieve.

During the meeting the EMU staff member will also talk to you about specimen preparation. In some cases the specimen preparation will be the most time-consuming and complex part of using the microscope.

Why does my supervisor (or a senior member of my group) have to come to the first meeting?

The staff in the EMU are very experienced in microscopy, but do not necessarily know a lot about your particular area of research. We want to include a more experienced person from your group in our initial meeting to ensure that your work proceeds in the most efficient way possible. 

What does it cost to use the EMU facilities?

A price list may be found here. If you have any questions, please email EMUAdmin@unsw.edu.au

How long does the training take?

In most cases the initial training to use an instrument takes 6 – 9 hours on a one-to-one basis (or in a small group), split up over 3 sessions. If you need to use more complex techniques or your specimen is difficult to work with, the training may take longer. The aim of the initial training is to enable you to operate the instrument safely and effectively to meet your goals, not to make you an expert microscopist. We encourage more experienced members of your group to work with you once you have completed the initial training. As they are likely to have been working with samples similar to yours, they are an invaluable resource when it comes to designing your experiments.


How do I prepare my specimen?

Good specimen preparation is vital for getting good results. The methods used will depend on the sample, the type of microscope and the research questions being asked. You will discuss specimen preparation during your new user meeting, but EMU staff are always available to discuss alternative methods, particularly if your specimen or your research goals change. Other sources of information about specimen preparation include your supervisor or other members of your group and the scientific literature or EM textbooks.

Which instrument should I use?

This depends mainly on your sample and your research question. It will be discussed during your new user meeting with staff. Please be aware that the instrument being used by other members of your group may not always be the best for the work that you are doing. Also, it may be necessary for you to learn to use more than one instrument if you have more than one question about your specimen.

How long will it be before I can make a booking for myself?

You will be able to make bookings for yourself on an instrument once you have completed the initial training on the instrument. 

How do I make a booking?

Log in to the EMU booking system, go to the Booking page, select the instrument that you want to use, then select the times in the calendar view. You will not be able to book an instrument until you have completed your training on that instrument.

How do I get my data?

All of the data generated in the EMU is saved to the EMU server. You may access your data by logging in to the EMU booking system and then downloading it. You will be shown how to do this during your training.

How do I get after-hours access?

Once you have built up a significant amount of experience on an instrument, you are encouraged to apply for after-hours access. Usually, you should make this application to the EMU staff member who trained you to use that instrument. To gain after-hours access you will need to do an additional OHS induction.

Can I get my microscopy done for me?

We strongly encourage you to learn to use the instrument yourself, as you are the person who knows your specimen and your research question best. However, this may not always be feasible (in particular if you have few samples and/or a short time frame). In this case, your best option is often to have your microscopy done by a more experienced member of your group. If this is not possible, please contact EMU staff so that we can develop a solution for you.

I am not from UNSW – can I still get access to the EMU facilities?

Yes. Please email EMUAdmin@unsw.edu.au with a short description of your specimen and what you want to find out about it.

How can I acknowledge the EMU in my publications?


The authors acknowledge the facilities, and the scientific and technical assistance of the Electron Microscope Unit, The University of New South Wales.


The authors acknowledge the facilities, and the scientific and technical assistance of the Australian Microscopy & Microanalysis Research Facility at the Electron Microscope Unit, The University of New South Wales.


EMU Publication Acknowledgement:

From 1 January 2018, an EMU Publication Acknowledgement comprising 2 hours of free microscopy time will be granted to each peer reviewed publication that includes the appropriate EMU acknowledgement (see https://www.analytical.unsw.edu.au/facilities/emu-5).

Authors of eligible papers should submit a copy of the published paper to Katie Levick, the EMU laboratory manager.

The Publication Award will be credited against future EMU use by the author or their UNSW supervisor. It must be used within 12 months.