Welcome to the West Georgia Microscopy Center, and thank you for visiting our website.

This center serves as a regional research center and as a focal point for public education and science teacher training. Recent and ongoing research projects have included both university research and private sector work. Our facilities are available for use by University of West Georgia faculty, sponsored students, industry/commercial users, and other external users. We are happy to arrange lab tours for college and K-12 groups upon request.

The centerpiece of the West Georgia Microscopy Center is an FEI Quanta 200 variable-pressure Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) with a Bruker solid-state EDS detector and ESPRIT software for semi-quantitative to fully-quantitative analyses of materials in a variety of analysis modes (spot, linear traverse, and areal mapping). As a variable-pressure SEM, our instrument is not only capable of traditional high-vacuum microscopy, but also low-vacuum and environmental modes, which gives us the ability to look at delicate organic or non-conductive specimens without having to coat them first with a conductive layer of carbon. Recent research projects using the SEM have had applications to geology, biology, chemistry, physics, materials science, art, and nano-technology. The images shown on this page demonstrate some of the imaging and chemical analysis capabilities of our instrument. The large chamber on the Quanta 200 can be configured to accommodate samples up to tennis-ball size.

The West Georgia Microscopy Center also maintains a variety of equipment for sample preparation; these include an SPI carbon sputter coater for the application of conductive coatings, a low-speed wafering saw for preparation of chips and sample wafers, a Struers Roto-Pol 35 for grinding and planning of specimens, and a Buehler Vibromet for final polishing of sample surfaces, as well as a variety of polarized light and stereo zoom microscopes for sample description and imaging. We are happy to consult with prospective users about the best methods and approaches to meet their analytical needs. Our fees for external academic and commercial users are reasonable, please contact us for detailed rates.

The facilities and instrumentation operated by the WGMC have supported a number of independent student research projects in Geology, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. Through the UWG Student Research Assistant Program (SRAP), multiple undergraduate students have had the opportunity to be trained in the use of the SEM, and participate in the day-to-day operation and management of the lab. The accessibility and availability of instrumentation to undergraduate students is one of the core guiding principles of the WGMC

For details on outreach possibilities, or for more information on our instrumentation, please contact:

Dr. Ryan Currier
Director, West Georgia Microscopy Center
Department of Geosciences
University of West Georgia
Carrollton, GA  30118
Email: rcurrier@westga.edu

Ant Antenna

Ant_antenna1.jpg – a backscattered electron (BSE) image showing the delicate morphological structures of the antenna of a common ant.

Red Bery Twinned

Red Beryl Twinned.jpg – a backscattered electron (BSE) image of a crystal of red beryl in a grain mount. Images such as these can highlight physical properties such as crystal form and mineral cleavage. Differences in grayscale reflect differences in composition, not true color.


Tyus2-Garnet.jpg – a backscattered electron (BSE) image of a portion of a polished thin-section, showing a large garnet in a fine-grained matrix. The different grayscale values reflect the mean atomic number of the elements that make up the minerals, not their true color.

KCF L1 Feldspars

KCF L1 feldspars – a composite chemical map generated by EDS analysis of a portion of a polished thin-section; different colors represent the abundance of the labeled elements, allowing the identification of unknown minerals and spatial variations in chemical composition.