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Cost Estimates for Full-service TEM Project:

Preparing specimens for transmission electron microscopy (TEM) is very labor-intensive and the most time-consuming (and most expensive) part of TEM imaging. Preparation has many steps, including fixation, embedding in plastic, thin-sectioning, staining, and then mounting on grids for TEM imaging. Most steps require great skill just to execute. With our highly experienced staff, you can be assured that specimen preparation is the highest quality possible. Collectively, our staff have processed hundreds of different types of basic-science research specimens. Because research specimens can vary wildly, our staff has the rare wealth of experience that is critical for proper processing that avoid artifacts.

Some trends from the most prevalent types of samples can be informative on costs and quality of preservation. For all services, please contact us for guidance and advice because your specimen may have extra challenges not obvious in the broad categories below. Written estimates are available upon request.

  • General trends:
    • Adherent cells easier to process when on culture dish
    • Cell suspensions harder to process (multiple washes; centrifugation takes time)
    • Yeast harder to embed in plastic. Infiltration is more involved and takes much longer, requiring an extra day to execute.
      • both S. cerevisiae and S. pombe
  • High-pressure freezing (HPF) & automated freeze-substitution (AFS)
    • HPF/AFS great for minimizing fixation artifacts
      • osmotically sensitive cells/tissues
      • thick/tough tissues where fixative slow to penetrate
      • good fidelity of membrane morphology (e.g. mitochondrial cristae; e.g. myelin in brain slice)
    • HPF/AFS only method to stabilize membranes (Osmium tetroxide)
    • HPF/AFS only method for fast correlation between light microscopy and electron microscopy (CLEM)
      • only minutes to freeze after viewing on light microscope
      • requires adherent cells to be grown on special sapphire coverslips (cs)
    • AFS is much slower than standard TEM processing
      • Our typical AFS fixation protocol takes 5-6 days to complete. For comparison, standard fixation for TEM typically takes a few hours to complete.
      • HPF/AFS takes ~1w longer than standard TEM for processing samples.
Transmission EM Project Cost Estimator (FY18 rates)
Full-Service Base Cost
(4 specimens: fix, embed, section, stain, & view)
$14001 total for whole project
($350 per specimen)
Commercial facilities
charge ~3x more!

$18001,2 total for whole project
($450 per specimen)
Only $100/spec more
than our std TEM!

Each additional specimen $120 $215
Min/Max number of specimens in Project 2/6
($273 to $580 per specimen)
($372 to $528 per specimen)
(trends based on complexity)
Adherent cells (on dish) -$130/Proj (discount)
Cell suspension +$130/Proj
Yeast +$130/Proj
Lowicryl embed (some immunoEM) +$520/Proj
ImmunoEM +$520/Ab/Proj
Adherent cells (on dish; req pre-fix) $130/Proj
Yeast +$195/Proj (+1 day)
Sapphire cs (CLEM) +$120/spec.
Lowicryl embed (some immunoEM) +$520/Proj
ImmunoEM +$520/Ab/Proj
Timing Standard 14d

Freezing @10a Fridays (must schedule in advance)

Standard 21d (AFS takes >5d)

1All EM processing costs assume all specimens delivered at the same time for same treatments, allowing batch processing; if sequential delivery (e.g. time-series) or separate treatments, costs will be higher for the extra labor.   2Base cost includes quadruplicate HPF freezing for each specimen to ensure success for AFS/embedded/sectioned/viewed; any extras are stored frozen and can be processed later.   Detailed pricing breaks down these costs differently.


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