Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
  Home > Collections & Research > Invertebrate Zoology >
Invertebrate Zoology

-IZ Staff
- SEM Lab
-DNA Lab
-Mollusca 2014
-Beyond the Exhibits

  SEM Lab
share page:


Scanning Electron Microscope

The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History – Department of Invertebrate Zoology installed a brand new research instrument, a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), in January 2005. It was purchased with an award from the National Science Foundation (NSF MRI 0420726) and a generous bequest from a private donor. The microscope is employed to advance our knowledge and understanding of the natural world, with an emphasis on using the collection resources at SBMNH.

Little slit shell

Teeth of snail


Mother of Pearl

Research: description of new species, understanding evolutionary history of organisms. In-house researchers, affiliated students, visiting scholars. The SEM is used for a variety of ongoing research projects including:
  • Systematics of California beetles (Michael Caterino).
  • Bivalves of the eastern Pacific (Paul Valentich-Scott).
  • Cerithiopsid snails of the Panamic Province (Henry Chaney).
  • Bryozoan systematics (Henry Chaney).
  • Bryozoans on black corals (Penny Morris & Henry Chaney).
  • Systematics of world-wide scissurellid snails (Daniel Geiger).
  • Systematics of Magellanic scissurellids (Diego Zelaya visiting scholar with Daniel Geiger).
  • Systematics of cephalopods (Eric Hochberg).
  • Juncus grass species used in Chumash baskets (Jan Timbrook).
  • Bird parasites (Krista Fahy).
  • Ribbon worm = nemertean systematics (Patricia Sadeghian).

Post-secondary education: training of students in the use of the instrument applied to a research question.

  • New species of eastern Pacific bivalve (Shannon Carpenter with Paul Valentich Scott).
  • New species of scissurellid from the Azores (Jaya Nolt with Daniel Geiger).


  • Exhibit on SEM at SBMNH, including printed catalog.
  • Museum Docent training.
  • SEM demonstrations to general public.
  • SEM demonstrations to K-12 schools.
  • SEM demonstrations to college and advanced students.

Training is provided individually to prospective users. Please contact Daniel Geiger (, x152) for details. Daniel will also be operating the instrument for occasional users. Time on the SEM is free of charge to all museum researchers and our exhibit projects. Basic supplies are available.

External users can rent the equipment:
Academic, un-applied projects: $50/h independent operator, must sign liability document. $130/h SEM operated by SBMNH personel.

Commercial projects: $120/h independent operator, must sign liability document. $200/h SEM operated by SBMNH personel.

New independent users are introduced to instrument for a minimum of two hours at the higher rate.

Supplies: small amounts (stubs, mounting media, solvents) are available from SBMNH and are charged to invesigator. For larger amounts the investigator should provide own supplies.

Data: Data is neither stored nor archived at SBMNH. Each investigator or recipient of data is responsible for their own data.

Usage condition subject to change at any time and without prior notice.

The instrument
Zeiss EVO 40 XVP • Tungsten filament, 0.4-30 kV • Magnification 7-3,200,000x: usable to 100,000x, in continuous zoom • Secondary Electron Detector • Scintillation four quadrant Backscatter Electron Detector • Variable Pressure Secondary Electron Detector • IR chamber scope • Variable pressure up to 700 Pa = 0.07 bar • 5 axis motorized stage • Image size up to 3072x2304 pixels (6.7 MB files) • AVI movie capture.

Sputter Coater: Cressington 108E with Rotacota rotating planetary stage • Au target.

Critical Point Dryer: Tousimis 815A, 4 and 12 slot sample holders, small particles basket (20 µm mesh).

Specimen types
Hard specimens (shells, insects, rocks): coated (SE and/or BSD detectors), uncoated (VPSE and/or BSD detector).
Dehydrated soft tissue (HMDS, CPD prepared samples): coated or uncoated.

Selected publications:
Nolt, J. M. 2008. A new species of Scissurella from the Azores with discussion on Sinezona semiscostata Burnay & Rolán, 1990 and Sinezona cingulata (O. G. Costa, 1861) (Gastropoda: Vetigastropoda: Scissurellidae). Zootaxa 1678: 51-62.

Geiger, D. L. 2006. Eight new species of Scissurellidae and Anatomidae (Mollusca: Gastropoda: Vetigastropoda) from around the world, with discussion of two new senior synonyms. Zootaxa 1128: 1-33.


Exhibitions | Sea Center | Gladwin Planetarium | Education | Collections & Research
Members | Support SBMNH | About Us | Site Map
Your privacy is important - privacy policy © 2018 Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History