Becoming an NCEM User
Step 1: Submit a proposal
Deadlines for new proposals are March 15, June 15, September 15, December 15.
Access to NCEM facilities is granted to researchers whose proposals are accepted by the NCEM proposal review committee. NCEM users are expected to have a strong background in transmission electron microscopy, and submitted proposals should include evidence of prior electron microscopy experience by the intended operator. Researchers who do not have sufficient experience in electron microscopy may be able to use NCEM facilities through a collaborative project.
Proposals are evaluated and ranked by an external Proposal Review Committee based on the following criteria:
a. Scientific merit.
b. Technical feasibility.
c. Need for NCEM’s unique or advanced facilities.
d. Experience of the research group required to achieve the proposal’s goals.
e. Availability of NCEM resources needed to support the proposed work.
Proposals are either accepted for a period of 18 months or they are rejected. For more details on how to write a successful proposal, go here. Please use this MS Word template. You can also download an example of a successfully-written proposal.
All proposals expire after 18 months. After this time period, a new proposal must be submitted for evaluation by the Proposal Review Committee. The review will take into consideration results from previous proposals of the user. Please refer to results from earlier proposals by proposal number, and describe clearly the specific goals and experiments planned for the new research.
Companies seeking to utilize NCEM for proprietary work may submit a proposal if the requested instrumentation or expertise is not available in the private sector. Proposals for proprietary work will be reviewed by NCEM's External Proposal Review Committee and be evaluated based on the same criteria as non-proprietary proposals. If approved, there will be an instrument user fee for self-operators and an additional charge if technical assistance is requested.
Complete the NCEM Proposal Form by clicking on this link: NCEM online proposal form.
Follow the instructions carefully and be sure to provide the information requested. If you have questions about a technical aspect of your proposed research please contact the appropriate staff member associated with your intended facility. For general questions please contact:
National Center for Electron Microscopy, MS 72-150
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Berkeley, CA 94720
Tel.: (510) 486-6036 Fax: (510) 486-5888
Step 2: Before you begin your research
Upon approval of your proposal, you will receive an email with instructions and contact information to start your work at NCEM. You must:
- Contact your assigned NCEM scientific advisor/contact to discuss the logistics of your project, included in the approval email you received. Discuss your arrival date.
- Complete all required badging and safety training no later than 2 weeks prior to your first visit to NCEM. If you are not a U.S. citizen, extra time must be taken to handle visa requirements.
- Turn in your completed safety controls form (after review and signed approval by your scientific NCEM staff contact) to John Turner, office #217 (Phone: 510/486-5700).
Step 3: Instrument qualification
After completing the required safety training, a new user should contact the NCEM scientific advisor in charge of his or her proposal and arrange for the necessary instrument qualification sessions. Instrument instruction will include a demonstration of specific instrument characteristics and will depend on the experience of the user and the goals of the proposed work. Following instruction each user must take a “driving test” on the instrument to become a qualified user. Different levels of access apply based on demonstration of competence and discretion of NCEM staff responsible for instrumentation. Some instruments might require a separate driving test for each instrument subcomponent (such as different in situ holders).
Instrument driving tests may be viewed here.
Step 4: Accessing facilities and performing research
NCEM's online scheduling website allows approved users to schedule instrument time for a given month beginning at 12:01 a.m. on the 15th day of the preceding month. If a user has exceptional circumstances and needs to schedule an instrument session prior to the 15th of the preceding month, he/she should contact the assigned NCEM staff contact. Cancellations within 24 hours of scheduled instrument time will not be accepted and will be counted as a session unless authorized by NCEM staff.
To qualify as a basic (Core) approved user, competence must be demonstrated by passing a "Core Driving Test" for each instrument to be operated. In addition, a valid authorization from the assigned NCEM scientific contact is required. To qualify as an approved second tier (Flex) user, a "Flex Driving Test" must be passed. An additional authorization is required from the same assigned contact for "after hours" card-key building access.
Each instrument has sign-up rules and scheduled sessions appropriate to the instrument and determined by the staff member in charge.
NCEM users are encouraged to join the NCEM User Association, which was established to provide a forum for discussion and exchange.
All published work resulting from use of this facility must include an acknowledgement to NCEM and the DOE as follows:
This work was performed at NCEM, which is supported by the Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences of the U.S. Department of Energy under Contract No. DE-AC02—05CH11231.
In addition, all published work resulting from use of NCEM must be added to the NCEM publication database.
(The National Center for Electron Microscopy is Building 72 within the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.)
You can find lodging in the Berkeley area at the above link.