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BioCryoCryo Workshop 2016BioCryo cover image Integrative Biology


Cryo EM of cells on different days in culture demonstrated that the freshly purified Ter119 negative cells present intact nuclear envelope, and strikingly, mouse fetal liver erythroblast forms a gradually enlarged nuclear opening. Image by Baobing Zhao, Postdoctoral Fellow (NU Pathology Department, Peng group), taken with the Cryo SEM S-4800.

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Cryo Workshop 2016

Around 60 attendees from various businesses and universities in the region gathered in Spring 2016 for the NUANCE Center’s CryoSEM workshop. Speakers included BioCryo facility manager and research assistant professor Reiner Bleher, associate professior Derk Joester, postdoctoral fellow Irene Chang, and Mager Scientific representative Mike Boyin.

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BioCryo cover image Integrative Biology

Left: Colorized SEM image of a chemically fixed and critical point dried mouse MII egg. Right: Colorized SEM image of a chemically fixed and critical point dried Aspergillus sp. (fungus) sample. The image was taken in NUANCE’s BioCryo Facility with the Hitachi S-4800-II. The image was recorded in NUANCE’s BioCryo Facility with the Hitachi S-4800-II.

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The integrated BioCryo Facility provides a comprehensive source for characterization of biological, soft matter and hybrid samples with TEM (Transmission Electron Microscopy), SEM (Scanning Electron Microscopy), and STEM (Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy) at cryogenic or at ambient temperature. This facility provides expertise and equipment for cryofixation and processing of frozen hydrated samples by high-pressure freezing, plunge freezing, cryo fracturing, cryo ultramicrotomy, freeze substitution, and turbo freeze-drying. Conventional samples can be processed at ambient temperature with chemical fixation, dehydration, and resin embedding, or critical point drying.

The BioCryo Facility also offers analytical STEM with EDS (Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy) and EELS (Electron Energy Loss Spectroscopy), serial sectioning for 3D reconstruction, and immunolabeling, as well as image processing. This repertoire of capabilities is constantly expanded by implementation of additional innovative instrumentation and techniques into BioCryo workflows.

In addition to offering training on instruments and sample preparation techniques, BioCryo staff mentors new users, advises on experimental design, and collaborates with researchers in experiments with challenging and unconventional samples. Similar to the other NUANCE facilities (EPIC, Keck-II, SPID), the BioCryo Facility participates in numerous educational and outreach events (e.g. workshops, seminars, demos, facility tours, etc.).

The administrative merger of BIF’s EM related staff, services and instrumentation with NUANCE’s BioCryo Facility will be in place starting September 1st, 2017. Operations of the integrated BioCryo Facility will be centered in Hogan Hall 5-150 (former BIF space) once renovations are completed later this fall.

Starting 9/1/17 the Instruments available are listed in NUCore under NU Atomic and Nanoscale Characterization Experimental Center (NUANCE): 


The primary objective of our mission is to enhance the education, collaboration, research and outreach related to all aspects of electron probe instrumentation, techniques and applications.  BioCryo is a shared user facility that supports a broad range of nanoscale science and technology projects, specializing in nanoscale analysis and characterization.

BioCryo is a multi-user, multi-departmental facility offering continually updated state-of-the-art equipment to qualified researchers from any field and institution.  BioCryo has a strong tradition of facilitating interdisciplinary research, and regular training sessions and short courses are offered by accomplished microscopists who manage the BioCryo facility, directed by Professor Vinayak P. Dravid.

Research and Societal Outreach

Local teachers, museums and members of the community are encouraged to join the NUANCE family through open house visits, demonstrations and presentations on how nanotechnology affects our daily lives. To schedule a tour for your group, please contact us.


The NUANCE Bio-Cryo facility is located at 2205 Campus Drive; O.T. Hogan Biological Sciences Building, Suite 5-150.

For more information about the BioCryo Facility, please contact:

Reiner Bleher, Ph.D.
BioCryo Facility Manager
NUANCE | Northwestern University
Phone: (847) 467-3540
Office: Hogan Hall 5-156