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Bio-Imaging & Life Science

Bio-Imaging & Life Science

Electron microscopy (EM) has been used for over 70 years in biological research, from tissue and cell ultrastructure down to the molecular organisation of proteins and macromolecules. EM is often used in combination with a variety of additional techniques, in the hope of linking structure to function and gaining a better understanding of life science specimens. Oxford Instruments NanoAnalysis provides tools, cameras, and analytical systems that are optimised for applications in life sciences, improving sensitivity, increasing throughput, and changing how we interpret biological information from the basic units of life through to complex medical research.

Layered EDS maps showing the distribution of elements in an unstained plant cell
Layered EDS maps showing the distribution of
elements in an unstained plant cell

Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectrometry​

Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectrometry (EDS) is opening new dimensions for biological electron microscopy, adding compositional information (colour EM) to greyscale ultrastructural images in SEM and TEM. The additional elemental information can be used for a variety of applications including, but not restricted to, measuring the quantity and localising endogenous biological elements, imaging ultrastructure without any stain in resin-embedded and cryo-specimens, investigating the location and distribution of nanoparticles in cells and tissues, determining ion gradients across specified areas, investigating the composition of pollutants or contamination of biological material and the identification of a diverse range of stains and immunolabels. For more detail on specific applications, please click here. 

EDS maps showing the composition of particles of air pollution collected on the surface of a leaf.  ​
*EDS maps showing the composition of particles of air pollution collected on the surface of a leaf

Our EDS systems provide the flexibility and accuracy required for biological analysis, including: 

  • Low kV analysis for high resolution data (<2kV)
  • Detection of light elements in biological samples (incl. nitrogen) using windowless detectors
  • Sensitivity for low dose conditions and cryo-EM
  • Fast and accurate compositional analysis with large area detectors
  • Easy to interpret analytical data with automatic identification of elements

Introduction to EDS

In this video, we discuss the fundamentals of electron microscopy, exploring the interaction between electrons and matter to explain how X-rays are generated. Following this, we delve into the process of EDS acquisition, identifying how a simple spectrum is acquired and how we expand on this process to produce elemental maps. Finally, we introduce Tru-Q®, our unique spectrum processing function, which turns EDS data into useful results.

Viewing time: 15 minutes


Included in this Whitepaper:

  • Introduction to EDS 
  • EDS studies in life science
  • Mapping essential elements in biological samples
  • EDS & Biological Sample Preparation Checklist
  • Ultim Extreme Detector 


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EDS Brochure


Imaging the natural world

In this webinar, we will be discussing microscopy art, how EDS can be used to provide striking and informative images about biological samples and how they have used this technique to explore the topic of air pollution as part of an ongoing collaborative project spanning both art and science.

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Bringing EDS to life: sample considerations for biological element analysis

Discover the challenges of biological applications of Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy (EDS), recognising issues related to specimen preparation and providing information on sample preparation methods and imaging conditions to maximise results, as well as covering the use of EDS in identification and imaging of cell ultrastructure.

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Rapid Elemental Characterisation of Biological Samples

Learn the complementary potential of analytical scanning electron microscopy (SEM) for fast and precise elemental characterisation of ultrastructural features in biological samples, without the need for specific labelling. 

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Airborne particles: where they're from and how they affect us

Learn how scanning electron microscopy (SEM) can help characterise airborne particulate matter and how this information is used and interpreted.

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Application Notes

EDS Analysis for Biological Samples

SEM provides significant versatility for life science research. But, there are key aspects of biological SEM that make EDS challenging. In this application note, we discuss how Oxford Instruments' Ultim Extreme detector provides a solution of EDS analysis for biological samples.

How Live Chemical Imaging can Help Biologists Find Rare Events

Discover how Live Chemical Imaging is a powerful tool for electron microscopists and can significantly speed up any investigation by combining ultrastructural information from the electron images with compositional information from EDS. 


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