New microscope, big addition to CSU research

Microscope (Photo credit: BWJones)

CSU researchers are given an opportunity to reflect on the small things in life with the addition of a $1.9 million high-resolution transmission electron microscope.

“With the resolution of this microscope, you are able to see individual atomic structures,” said research scientist Roy Geiss. “The resolution is the big thing. You can differentiate small particles.”


This is the second TEM  brought to CSU. The new microscope manufactured by JEOL Ltd. is set up for materials research which benefits from the higher resolution and the other microscope. The other microscope is located in the University’s Anatomy and Zoology Building and is used for biological research, according to JEOL service engineer Robert Tilbury.

“With this one in particular, you get to see things on the atomic scale,” Tilbury said. “The other one you get to see cellular structure and things like that.”

Geiss expressed that having the microscope at a CSU lab will be a valued resource. According to chemistry department research scientist Chris Rithner, the technology of the microscope is unmatched in other labs in an approximate 200 mile radius.

“What we have been able to do is design a lab that takes advantage of this microscope in a way that some of these other labs have not been able to do,” Rithner said.

Previously, CSU researchers would travel to Golden, Colo., to use a similar TEM microscope at the Colorado School of Mines. According to Geiss, that microscope is over 20 years old.

“We are more powerful than anything at the School of Mines,” Rithner said about the TEM.

The microscope gives a whole new range of research potential.

“(Researchers) have the ability to determine elemental properties as well as the atomic structure of material,” Tilbury said.

The microscope comes with accessories available that will make it a versatile asset to science programs at CSU.

“You can add accessories to the microscope. Some of these accessories will do experiments that will reach an even broader audience,” Rithner said. “This will tell us more about the identity of the actual atoms.”


Geiss was hired as a new research scientist to oversee the use of the microscope.

“The prospect of adding additional accessories to it, plus the SEM (scanning electron microscope) and Having Dr. Roy Geiss, who is a renowned expert — That’s a very powerful combination,” Rithner said.

So far the microscope is only being used in limited capacity, but the researchers hope it will be available for university use by the end of the semester. Because CSU is a public university, other researchers will also be able to use the microscope.

“We can basically collaborate with anybody,” Geiss said.

According to Rithner, the addition of the new microscope is made more significant by the personnel, students, and state-of-the art laboratory surrounding it. The collaboration brings researchers together to explore the potential that the new technology provides.

“You look up at the universe and you see billions and billions of stars,” Geiss said. “Materials have billions and billions of atoms. You can look at the gigantic through the telescope to the nanoscopic through the microscope.”

Collegian Reporter Stephanie Mason can be reached