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Research Facilities at the Department of Biochemistry


Welcome to the BiocEM Cryo-EM Facility at the Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge.

The facility was established in 2017 with financial contributions from Welcome Trust, the University of Cambridge, and the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research (CIMR).

We provide access to cryo-electron microscopes, training, support and scientific guidance for academic and industrial users wishing to perform Cryo-EM experiments.

The Cryo-EM Facility is located on level 00 of the Sanger Building.

The facility is part of a more extensive collection of service and research facilities in the Department of Biochemistry.

In collaboration with BioNTech, the Facility is upgrading its Titan Krios cryo-electron microscope detector to Falcon4i/SelectrisX (by ThermoFisher Scientific). The work commenced on November 9, 2023, and will take a few weeks to complete. Update: The installation is finished, and the instrument is back in service.

Cryo-EM Facility Operating Procedures

Updated March 6, 2024

Please note, the following procedures are subject to change in response to feedback from users and facility staff.
We appreciate your patience and understanding.

1. Face coverings are not compulsory but can be worn if users wish to do so.
2. Please do not come into the facility if you feel unwell. We can run your microscope session and provide a remote feed. 
2. Only 3 people per microscope during session, that includes the Facility staff if they run the session.
3. Only 3 people per Vitrobot during session, that includes the Facility staff if they run the session.

1. Users may book microscopes themselves, using the online booking system
2. All bookings can be amended by the Facility staff at short notice if necessary. Any alterations will be communicated to the user as soon as possible.
3. Grid screening and/or data collection session can be run by the Facility staff without user’s presence at the Facility (as has been standard practice for the COVID19 era). All communications, in this case, will be done electronically. Please inform the facility manager prior to your session if you intend to be present during the session.
4. All microscope’s interactive sessions typically start around 9 am and must finish by 4 pm. 8-9 am and 4-5 pm are reserved for the facility to perform housekeeping procedures.
5. A maximum of 11 grids (one cassette) may be loaded on both microscopes. However, the actual number of grids screened during the session will be limited by the end-time of the session (screening/collection setup must finish by 4 pm). Note: There is a possibility of loading a second cassette onto Talos Arctica, but the decision has to be made by 1 pm. No overnight data collection will be set up in this case. 
6. Overnight data collection will be stopped at 7:30 am.
7. Titan Krios is available for the weekend sessions. For Talos Arctica - obtain permission from the Facility Manager before booking.
8. External users: contact the Facility manager at least three days before the beamtime for instruction on how to deliver the grids to the facility, which grids to load to the microscope. Failure to do so may result in your booking being cancelled without refund of charges.
9. The Facility does not provide remote connection for operation of microscopes or monitoring of the data collection.

1. Both Vitrobot 1 and 2 are available. Location - room 00.05. The glow discharger is also located in this room. 
2. A new procedure for condensing the ethane safely is now in place. Contact Lee Cooper (lrc44 at for more information.
3. The default session duration is 2 hours. However, the actual use time is only 1 hour 45 minutes. The last 15 minutes of the session are left to ensure there is no overlap between users. Please plan and book accordingly.
4. All surfaces and equipment must be cleaned after use with 70% ethanol (spray bottle and tissue are provided). Please follow the printed procedures that are available next to each instrument. 
5. Please use your own pipettes, pipette tips, pens, or consumables items.
6. Wear clean gloves and lab coats when working in the facility.
7. If you require grid's storage buttons/tubes, contact facility staff. Please do that ahead of the session.

1. The Facility will keep your data on its servers for at least 14 days from when your data collection session starts. After this period, your data will be deleted without any further warning.
2. For SPA (single particle analysis) data collection runs, we routinely process the data with WARP to ensure the microscopes perform well and the data collection parameters are chosen appropriately.
3. Particle reconstruction calculations with CryoSPARC can also be performed by facility staff if time permits and with prior agreement. This analysis is not considered a routine function of the Cryo-EM facility services provided. All non-routine tasks performed by Facility Staff should be appropriately acknowledged as recommended in guidelines of Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities.
4. WARP/CryoSPARC processing data can be deleted immediately after the session. Please request for a copy of the files to be handed to you in a timely manner.

1. Training sessions are available for users from the University of Cambridge and affiliated institutions only.
2. Training sessions for grid preparation with Vitrobots are available - only one person per training session. Contact Lee Cooper (lrc44 at, put “Training” in the Subject line) for more information.
3. Training for the microscope operation is also available, but only for users providing their own grids/samples. We do not offer “dry run” training sessions for now unless there are exceptional circumstances. Let Dima Chirgadze (dyc21 at know that you wish to be trained as soon as possible after booking your microscope session. Training sessions will have a limit of 6 grids only. Users must have received training on the Talos Arctica before requesting training on the Titan Krios.


The Cryo-EM Facility team