This laboratory has different types of microscopes, making it possible to distinguish four main areas within the field of Microscopy: i) area of optical, fluorescence and metallographic microscopy; ii) area of particle analysis; iii) area of confocal laser microscopy; and iv) area of scanning electron microscopy. This wide range of scientific equipment makes it possible to study multiple parameters for different types of materials: from the analysis and automated classification of particles to quality control of electronic components


Microscopy is the set of techniques and methods aimed at visualizing objects of study which, due to their small size, are beyond the resolution range of the human eye. In the case of optical and electron microscopy, the technique in itself involves the diffraction, reflection or refraction of an electromagnetic wave/electron beam that interacts with the sample, and the collection of the scattered radiation or of any other signal to create an image Equipo 2

Optical microscopy: In this type of microscope the area observed is greatly illuminated. They generally reach a magnification of around 1000, although this figure can be doubled with powerful eyepieces. The useful magnification limit is 2000 due to the power of resolution. Generally, optical microscopes consist of a mechanical and an optical part. The latter part consists of three lens systems: i) the condenser that illuminates the object studied, ii) the objective that magnifies the image and enables it to be observed from the eyepiece and iii) the eyepiece that further enhances the image and that makes it visible to the human eye. Depending on the arrangement and type of components, the nature of the light employed, the presence of filters, etc., there can be different types of optical microscopes: stereoscopic, incident light, metallographic, transmitted light, fluorescence, polarized light, etc.

Confocal microscopy: This type of microscope uses a monochromatic laser beam as a light source, characterized by a specific wavelength. The light emitted from the sample passes through a very small opening, called pinhole (pinhole diaphragm), located before the photodetectors. This enables a layered approach and, due to the superimposition of layers, it is possible to reconstruct the surface of the samples, obtaining high-resolution images, thus facilitating the study of roughness, profiles and superficial alterations, among others.

Scanning electron microscopy: This method is based on making a very narrow beam of electrons, accelerated with energies from a few hundred eV to keV, to impact on a sample that is opaque to the electrons. This beam focuses on and scans the surface of the sample.

The deriving radiation can be of low energy, leading to so-called secondary electrons, resulting in the observation of three-dimensional images. By comparison, backscattered electrons are of high energy and their emission intensity will depend on the atomic number of atoms of the sample, which may reveal a different chemical composition of the sample due to contrast differences.

Likewise, the X-ray emission from the sample can be used to perform elemental qualitative and semiquantitative analyses. To this end, different microanalysis techniques can be used such as EDS or WDS.

When working in high vacuum mode, samples should be prepared. To do so, they are made more conductive by coating them with gold or coal and they must be dehydrated. When working under vacuum or environmental mode, the fresh sample can be observed without coating or dehydration, which makes it a non-destructive technique

Facilities and equipment

Optical microscopy: the laboratory has several stereoscopic microscopes (Olympus SZX16 and SZX10), along with petrographic microscopes (both with polarization and fluorescence (Olympus BX51)). Foto Microscopía 1

Confocal laser microscope (Olympus LEXT OLS3000): This microscope is equipped with a 408 nm laser. It enables the observation of surfaces at high resolution and makes it possible to obtain 2D and 3D images. The motorized stage enables surface analyses of materials in certain areas, thus making it possible to obtain information on various parameters such as roughness, profiles, shapes, etc

Morphologi G3 (particle analysis): This is a digital system for automated high sensitivity measurement of the size and shape of particles in dry powder form, emulsions and suspensions. It enables particle counting and the detection of foreign particles in samples

Foto Microscopía 2

Metallographic microscope Olympus BX51M (particle analysis): This microscope has powerful particle analysis software and is also equipped with a motorized stage which can be used for studies of thermochronology by fission track.

Scanning electron microscope FEI Quanta 600: This microscope enables the observation and characterization of samples by obtaining high-resolution imaging. The equipment can be used both in high vacuum mode, acting as a traditional scanning electron microscope (SEM), and in environmental mode (ESEM). The latter mode enables observation without coating or metallizing the sample, which makes it a non-destructive technique. The equipment is also coupled to two X-ray microanalysis systems (EDX and WDX) that enable elemental analysis in a timely manner, or compositional mapping

Applications and Services


  • Análisis automatizado de filtros según normas ISOEquipo 1


  • Automated analysis of filters in accordance with ISO standards
  • Analysis and automated classification of particles
  • Structural and ultrastructural morphological analysis
  • Assessment of the deterioration of materials
  • Material fracture and wear analysis
  • Paleontology and archeology
  • Analysis of textile fibers
  • Appraisal and study of pictorial artwork
  • Quality control of electronic components
  • Study of polymorphisms in the pharmaceutical industry
  • Geomining research
  • Forensic medicine
  • Etc.


  • Optical microscopy
  • Scanning electron microscopy
  • X-ray microanalysis: EDX and WDX
  • Confocal microscopy
  • Particle analysis
  • Digital image analysis
  • Sample preparation


Last updated: Wed, 02/01/2023 - 10:49