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Elektronenmikroskopische Schwarz-weiß-Aufnahme von Zellbestandteilen

Electron microscopy

"The light microscope opened the 1st gate to microcosm. The electron microscope opened the 2nd gate to microcosm. What will we find opening the 3rd gate?" - Ernst Ruska

Microscopy and the exploration of our living world have always been closely linked. The electron microscope – invented by Ernst Ruska in Berlin in 1932 – enabled researchers to achieve far greater resolutions than previously possible using the light microscope. Ruska's invention opened previously undreamt-of opportunities and continues to hold enormous potential even today.

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An electron microscope uses a beam of electrons to visualize objects at an extremely high resolution. As with light microscopy, the electron microscope’s resolution is determined by wavelength. As the wavelength of accelerated electrons is much shorter than that of visible light, the technology has a theoretical resolution limit of approximately 0.1 nm, which is solely determined by the biological properties of the specimens used. Electron microscopy (EM) is far more complex to use than other microscopic techniques but has one undisputed advantage: providing the best resolution. This and the method’s ‘open view’ of the sample’s ultrastructure, are what makes EM so attractive. In addition to conventional EM techniques, modern electron microscopy comprises technological advances such as 3D EM, correlative techniques and cryo-EM.

Core Facility for Electron Microscopy (CFEM)

Elektronenmikroskopische Schwarz-weiß-Aufnahme von Zellbestandteilen
Black-and-white EM image of cell components: Lamellar bodies of a type-II pneumocyte; © Charité / Core Facility for Electron Microscopy

The CFEM offers both the necessary infrastructure and the expertise needed to conduct EM-based projects. In addition to providing support during project design and execution stages (fixation of sample and preparation), we also provide advice regarding the analysis of any data collected. We offer individual user training sessions, but also offer full-service packages for the entire project workflow, with CFEM staff completing the sample fixation and preparation stages, as well as all EM imaging. The CFEM home page (which is updated at regular intervals) provides information both on the devices and the techniques available. These can be booked via our online booking system. Users can also view our terms of use and fees schedule.


  • Advice on any electron microscopy-related issues
  • Preparation of samples from tissues, cell cultures and cell suspensions
  • Sample preparation for materials science projects
  • Immunogold labeling
  • Tokuyasu technique for cryosectioning
  • Freeze-substitution
  • Cryo-EM
  • Electron tomography
  • Image documentation and digital processing


  • Tecnai G2 20
  • Leo EM 906
  • GeminiSEM 300
  • Devices and materials for sample preparation


Contact e-mail for the Core Facility for Electron Microscopy:

Scientific Management

+49 30 450 528 777

Operational Management

+49 30 450 536 508

Technical Management

+49 30 450 536 088

Core Facility for Cryo-Electron Microscopy

Cryo-electron microscopy (Cryo-EM) enables researchers to study the structure of protein complexes at molecular resolution. Our facility accepts suitable samples for automated single particle analysis. We also offer complementary methods such as cryo-electro tomography (ET), focused ion beam cutting techniques (FIB milling) and correlative microscopy, which can be used to study samples in vivo. By combining these methods, macromolecular complexes can be studied in nanometer scales, ranging from sub-nanometers to nanometers. For this, we offer data collection using a high-end microscope, assistance with sample optimization and advice during subsequent structural analysis.


  • Training on our systems
  • Independent use of our systems for users who have completed our training
  • Automated data collection for single-particle projects
  • Cryo-electron tomography
  • FIB milling for the visualization of cellular structures using cryo-EM
  • Correlative light and electron microscopy
  • Advice on the purification of complexes and sample optimization for EM/ET
  • Advice on structural analysis using tomography, single particles etc.


  • Titan Krios Cryo-TEM with energy filter, phase plate and DED camera
  • Aquilos Cryo-FIB system
  • Leica SP8 Cryo-CLEM microscope
  • Vitrobot plunge freezer


+49 30 450 524 187