About CIME

CIME is a central facility in electron microscopy dedicated to studies in solid state physics, material science and life sciences. It gathers most of the EPFL equipment for electron microscopy together with an experienced staff. This situation leads to the availability of the widest set of observation techniques at a minimum cost of investments.


It guarantees to all persons interested in electron microscopy – researcher or students of EPFL, co-workers of other universities or private laboratories – to get access to the best suited technique for their purpose.


To stay competent and open-minded to the users questions, CIME leads its own research and development activity.


Enter the world of Microscopy and Nanoscopy.

Electron Microscopes were developed due to the limitations of Light Microscopes which are limited by the physics of light to a resolution of about 0.2 micrometers. In the early 1930’s this theoretical limit had been reached and there was a scientific desire to see the fine details of the interior structures of organic cells (nucleus, mitochondria…etc.). This required 10,000x plus magnification which was just not possible using Light Microscopes.


The Transmission Electron Microscope
(TEM) was the first type of Electron Microscope to be developed and is patterned exactly on the Light Transmission Microscope except that a focused beam of electrons is used instead of light to “see through” the specimen. It was developed by Max Knoll and Ernst Ruska in Germany in 1931.


The first Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) debuted in 1942 with the first commercial instruments around 1965. Its late development was due to the electronics involved in “scanning” the beam of electrons across the sample.


Since then, electron microscopy plays a key role in many fields of life sciences, materials sciences and physics.


The interdisciplinary center for electron microscopy (CIME) at EPFL is a research and service center for electron microscopy.

Quelque mots d’histoire sue le CIME

Despite the pandemic, you can discuss with one of CIME’s scientific staff by Zoom on demand. Contact us: [email protected]

The EPFL direction is in negociation with the SNF about eligible costs for platform services (in our case microscope user fees). If you are planning a grant application please contact us. We can provide you information about what kind of user fees (called participation in direct cost of use of platform equipment) can be put into grant application.

CIME facility user fees