(photo: introductory image for the site)

Getting Prepared for Your ZAPLab Visit

Please drop off sections that you would like carbon coated at least 48 hours before your scheduled SEM time.

Please drop off your sample that you would like to analyze 12 hours before your scheduled SEM time. And please let us know which sample you would like to run first, so we can have it set up first thing.


When you come to the ZAPLab, please have following with you:

  • A list of detectors you want to use
  • A list of samples with a priority ranking
  • A list of targets
  • Thin section/grain mount maps with circled targets (printed)
  • Thin section/grain mount maps with circled targets (on usb key)


How to prepare your thin section samples for analysis in the ZAPLab:

  • Ahead of time: think about what steps and preparation is required to make our time as efficient as possible. Remember: Other users are waiting to get onto the FEG-SEM.
  • Have a clear question that you need answered by FEG-SEM, that optical microscopy won’t answer.
    • A lot of time can be easily wasted if your focus isn’t directed on a specific question
  • Choose your samples wisely
    • You don’t want to waste time on samples that are not significant to your question
  • Now that you’ve chosen your samples, where in the samples are your areas of interest?
    • Please do optical microscopy first, and decide which spots need further explanation through FEG-SEM
  • Find exactly what you are looking for with an optical microscope à more specific the area the better
    • Which minerals are you wondering about?
    • Which features are of interest?
    • How big are the targets? Measure them, Ivan will want to know.
    • Choose your specific spots to look at under the FEG-SEM
    • Again have specific questions, a lot of time can be wasted on the FEG-SEM if you are not too sure what you want to look at.  It is easy to wonder about every single phase in your site of interest, but it is easy to use up all of your time this way.
  • Take digital images of the sites of interest, and note the orientation of the sample when the image was taken
    • We want all the images to be in the same orientation
    • The more detailed the images the better
    • Take a context image, and then take a couple of “zoom ins”
  • In order to make a whole thin section map, one of two methods can be used:
    • Take a fine tipped marker and circle your sites of interest on the top of the thin section
      • If you do this, please clean your sample before you circle the sites of interest with soap and water, once marker is applied to the sample, we cannot clean the samples. We don’t want to see fingerprints!
      • Smaller the marker circle, the better à We can see the marker under the FEG-SEM
      • Optional: You can connect the site of interest circles with a marker line
      • When done putting the marker on the thin section, scan the sample into the computer using a flatbed scanner
    • Only scan your sample into a computer using a flatbed scanner
      • Photoshop onto the digital image little circles representing your sites of interest across the sample à Be accurate and compare using an optical microscope
      • We can then clean your sample for you when you bring it to the ZAPLab
  • Label your sites of interest on the digital image (ie spot 1)
    • This helps for naming conventions while on the FEG-SEM
  • Decide upon your coating type
    • Carbon is good for general use, and great for Xray analysis (We do this at the ZAPLab – we require samples 48 hours in advance)
      • We can fit a maximum of 6 sections into the carbon coater at one time
    • Osmium is a good thin film, useful for high resolution work, and where you are looking for carbon (Nanofab does this)
    • Gold is good for secondary electron applications, topography (Biotron does this)
  • Print out and bring your thin section scanned maps in high quality colour
  • Bring your thin section scanned maps on a usb key
  • If you have a laptop, bring it, along with your zoomed in optical microscopy images
  • Have an idea which sample you would like to start with, come up with a priority list


Also from this web page:

Our Department:

The Department of Earth Sciences

At the University of Western Ontario