Research Facilities

Our research facilities contain state-of-the-art equipment, allowing both researchers and graduate students to work on the cutting edge of earth and environmental research. Undergraduate students are also given the opportunity to use some of this equipment in their classes and when working for professors in their laboratories.

The department has a Thermo Solaar M5 atomic absorption spectrometer. Typically, this instrument is used for teaching and outreach demonstrations. We have a variety of lamps for analysis.

Room 107, GLIER
Technician: Sharon Lackie, Room 213
Phone: (519) 253-3000
Ext. 4850 (office)
Ext. 4932 (SEM Lab)
Fax: (519) 971-3616

Faculty Supervisor: Christopher Weisener
Phone: 519 253-3000 ext. 3753

Hours of Operation: 9:00am - 4:30pm

The University of Windsor's Environmental SEM facility offers an Environmental Scanning Electron Microscope for users from all fields of research. The Environmental SEM is extremely versatile, and allows users to image the most challenging samples. The Environmental SEM excels at High Resolution Imaging, capable of resolution of 5 nanometers, excellent backscatter images, elemental analysis with Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS) and elemental mapping, and cathodoluminescence of trace elements. This SEM can image wet, dirty, oily or outgassing samples using the Low Vacuum or Environmental Mode.

The Microscope:

The FEI Quanta 200 FEG microscope was purchased in 2005, and is a leader in high resolution SEM with the following equipment and specifications:

  • Field Emission Gun (filament) for highest resolution 
  • Everhart-Thornley Secondary Electron Detector
  • Solid State Backscatter Detector
  • Large Field Secondary Electron Detector 
  • EDAX Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS) X-Ray Detector
  • Gaseous Secondary Electron Detector
  • Cathodoluminescence Detector 

Other Equipment Available:

  • Carbon Coater
  • Scandium imaging software for measuring and image enhancement
  • EDAX Genesis Software for EDS
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • BET surface area analyser

The Facility:

The Environmental SEM facility is run by Sharon Lackie, who is available to train new users, provide assistance with the running of the microscope and the EDS equipment, and offer advice on preparation methods or imaging parameters. 

Booking Time on the Microscope:

Time can be booked on the microscope for a few hours, half a day or a whole day. Charges are per hour of microscope time.

Clients who wish to use the SEM may view available time slots using the Booking Calendar. 

If you need to cancel an appointment, please contact Sharon Lackie directly at 519-253-3000 x 4850, or by e-mail at

User Fees:

User fees are charged in order to generate funds to maintain the equipment. Fees are charged on an hourly basis, and vary based on whether the technician operates the SEM for the user, or it is user-operated. There is a fee for training, after which the trained user is charged a lower rate. This training fee incorporates the hourly rate, plus a fee for technician time.

Internal Hourly Rates (persons within the University of Windsor Community)

  • Trained User (once trained by the technician): $45
  • With Operator (technician): $55
  • Training Session: $95
  • Elemental Maps: $50

External Academic Hourly Rates (persons outside the University of Windsor Community)

  • Trained User: $55
  • With Operator: $65
  • Training Session: $95
  • Elemental Maps: $50
  • Industrial User:  $100

Our fluid inclusion system comprises an Olympus BX51 petrographic microscope coupled with a Linkam THMS600 heating-cooling stage for fluid inclusion phase-change measurements. The system also has UV fluorescence capabilities and an infra-red camera for measuring fluid inclusions in opaque minerals. This microscope is also equipped with a QImaging Retiga-2000 camera, controlled by QCapture software.

Please contact Melissa Price or Iain Samson to book Flinc.

The Element and Heavy Isotope Analytical Laboratories (EHIAL) comprise a suite of analytical instrumentation including:

  • Inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES)
  • Quadrupole inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-QMS)
  • Multi-collector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MC-MS)
  • Direct mercury analysis
  • Dedicated, purpose-built, clean lab and sample preparation facilities
  • Sample delivery by solution nebulization or via microsampling using laser ablation

The EHIAL was constructed through significant investments by the University of Windsor and through Canada Foundation for Innovation/Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation awards to GLIER and the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, as well as industrial partners. The EHIAL is accredited by the Canadian Association for Laboratory Accreditation (CALA) for mercury analysis of sediment and tissue.  We routinely collaborate with researchers from the University of Windsor and other domestic and foreign universities, as well as industrial partners.

Major Instrumentation:

  • The major pieces of instrumentation in the EHIAL analytical laboratories include:
  • Agilent 7900 fast-scanning ICP-QMS 
  • Agilent 720 ICP-OES 
  • Thermo Neptune MC-ICP-MS with upgraded pumping system and interface 
  • PhotonMachines 193 nm short pulse width Analyte Excite excimer laser ablation system
  • PhotonMachines 266 nm femtosecond pulse width laser ablation system
  • Direct Mercury Analyzer 

Research Foci:

The combination of analytical capabilities is unique in Canada and enables the EHIAL to offer ‘state of the science’ analyses as well as to develop novel protocols for laser ablation microanalysis.  Elemental and isotopic analytical method development and applications routinely include environmental, biological, geological, chemical, and materials engineering research areas using both solution- and laser ablation-based analyses.  Recent solution-based elemental and isotopic applications have included fresh water, rocks, soils, sediments, plant and animal tissues, resin pellets, oil sands tailings, extraction chemistry, and bacterial-sediment interactions.  Recent laser ablation elemental and isotopic applications have included laser-matter interactions, standard reference materials validation, minerals, fluid and melt inclusions, tissues (e.g., otoliths, vertebra, fin rays), metal alloys, and experimental run products.  Key areas of research currently include:

  • Development and validation of analytical and data reduction approaches for the quantitative elemental and isotopic microanalysis of individual mineral, fluid, and melt inclusions 
  • Application of elemental and isotopic tracers to determining the key physicochemical parameters controlling mineral deposit formation and occurrence
  • Application of elemental and isotopic tracers to characterizing environmental quality and determining organismal life history of native and invasive species
  • Development, validation, and application of isotopic microanalytical procedures for analysis of problematic or poorly characterized media (e.g., sulphide minerals, metal alloys, biogenic tissues)


We are continually looking for new and interesting analytical challenges.  If you would like to access the EHIAL laboratories or are interested in conducting collaborative research, please contact one of the following:

Joel E. Gagnon, Ph.D., EHIAL Head
Telephone: (519) 253-3000 Ext. 2496

Iain M. Samson, Ph.D., EES
Telephone: (519) 253-3000 Ext. 2489

J.C. Barrette, EHIAL Technician
Telephone: (519) 253.3000 Ext. 2719

The Image Analysis laboratory in the School of the Environment is located in Memorial Hall, room 310.  The laboratory hosts two Olympus BX51 petrographic microscopes, both equipped with a Luminera Infinity 1 high resolution digital/video camera coupled with capture software. One microscope has transmitted-light, reflected-light and UV-epi fluorescence capabilities (Imagine), the other only transmitted- and reflected-light capabilities (Rocky).  Each microscope has a different stage: Rocky has a petrographic, rotating stage and Imagine is equipped with a Prior electronic stage capable of automated image capture using Stage-Pro software. This software is an extension of Image-Pro Plus software used for image analysis.

An Olympus SZ-CTV binocular scope is also available.  It has reflected- and transmitted-light capabilities and is compatible with the Lumenera Infinity 1 camera for digital photos.

To book a time slot to use the image analysis facility, please choose an open spot in the Google calendar (see below) and contact Melissa.  If Melissa is not available, contact Iain.

Image Analysis Facility Guidelines:

  1. Priority for booking the Imagine station is given to those who need the imaging capabilities. If you only want to use a microscope for basic imaging, please select the Rocky system.  If Rocky is booked, one may use Imagine for basic imaging provided nobody needs the advanced imaging capabilities at the same time. If all you need is a microscope, there are several other microscopes available.
  2. Booking for Imagine or Rocky is to be done through Melissa (or Iain, if Melissa is not available). Use the links above to see times that the equipment is available. You can call Melissa at x2500 or email to book time. We reserve the right to limit the amount of time one person spends on the equipment depending on demand. Please give as much notice as possible to avoid any disappointment.
  3. If you cannot keep an appointment, please let Melissa know. This will allow other users to spend time on the equipment in your absence. Call or e-mail as far in advance as is possible.
  4. Do not change the stages or the cameras without the help of Melissa or Iain.
  5. If you encounter problems, let Melissa or Iain know.
  6. Save all your files in a folder labeled with your name in the “My Documents” folder. This allows easy backup if the hard drive needs to be changed or if something happens. Administrators will not look through the whole computer for files so please save all of your work here.
  7. Backup your data regularly. The administrators will not do so. Also, if the hard drive crashes, it may be impossible to recover your files so keep backups!

Equipment available in the Paleomagnetic and Rock Magnetic laboratories:

  • 2G cryogenic magnetometer
  • Magnetics Measurement TSD-1 thermal demagnetizer
  • Sapphire Instruments impulse magnetizer
  • Sapphire Instruments AF demagnetizer with DC coil for ARM measurements
  • Sapphire Instruments susceptibility meter
  • Bartington field susceptibility suite and dual-frequency sensor
  • Geometrics cesium gradiometer with DGPS
  • AGICO Kappabridge KLY-3 susceptibility meter with furnace and low temperature attachment

Field equipment for Geophysics includes:

  • Cart GPR x2

Purchased in the summer of 2014, the WiTec Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) and Confocal Raman Spectrometer is a multifunctional integrated system which allows users to do both AFM and Raman spectroscopy on the same sample, on the same instrument, using integrated software. It also has a True Surface Profilometer, and SNOM (Scanning Near Optical Micrsocopy) capabilities which can achieve an optical resolution of 50-100 nm.

The WiTec System has a 532 nm and 785 nm laser, and is equipped with both transmitted and reflected light sources for a variety of needs. It is also capable of carrying out analyses in liquid, and has water-immersion objective lenses.

The instrument is available for all users in the campus community, and operates on a user fee basis (see below).

Fees for use of the WiTec Raman/AFM System are charged per hour (or part thereof) of use.

  • Trained Internal Academic User:  $25.00/hour
  • Untrained Internal Academic User (with technician):  $35/hour
  • Trained External Academic User: $35/hour
  • Untrained External Academic User (with technician):  $45/hour
  • Industrial User:  $85/hour

To book time on the AFM/Raman, please contact Sharon Lackie at or x4850, or Melissa Price at

The EES Sample Preparation Facility is a recent addition to our department and is located in Memorial Hall, room B-06.  The facility is equipped to create polished thin or thick sections, covered thin sections, circular probe sections and doubly polished fluid inclusion wafers.  Brittle or friable samples may also be impregnated with clear or blue dyed epoxy prior to sectioning.

The facility includes:

  • Logitech CL50 Compact lapping machine for lapping rocks for thin or thick section prep
  • Logitech CL50 Compact polishing machine for fine polishing of polished sections
  • Logitech CL30 Diamond Trim Saw for cutting rocks to size
  • Logitech Model 15 wire and diamond blade saw for cutting delicate samples
  • Logitech IU30 Impregnation Unit

At the current moment, this facility is only available to faculty, staff and students in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

The laboratory is equipped with a Thermo Finnigan Delta Plus mass spectrometer (with a dual inlet system) coupled to a Thermo Finnigan Flash elemental analyzer for continuous-flow capability.  A 10 port manifold is used to measure gas samples prepared off-line using vacuum extraction lines.  The laboratory offers analysis of stable isotopes of 13C/12C, 15N/14N and 18O/16O in a wide array of geologic, hydrologic and biologic materials.  

The lab was established at the University of Windsor in 1991 under the direction of Dr. Ihsan Al-Aasm.  The lab functions as both a hands-on student teaching lab and supporting Dr. Al-Aasm's research group in sedimentary geochemistry.  The lab also accepts outside contracts from various faculty members and researchers from other universities across the world.

User Fees:

Please contact Dr. Ihsan Al-Aasm for current user fees, sample requirements and expected turn-around times:

Dr. Ihsan Al-Aasm
Department of Earth Sciences, University of Windsor
401 Sunset Avenue, Windsor, Ontario, N9B 3P4, Canada

Phone: (519) 253-3000 ext 2494
Fax: (519) 973-7081

The School of the Environment houses a Rigaku MiniFlex X-ray diffractometer (XRD) for characterizing solid materials (e.g. rocks, minerals, soils, etc.). Samples must be powdered for analysis. The XRD is computer-controlled and a commercial search-match software program (Crystal Impact's Match!) is used to help identify phases in a sample.

Pricing (all prices in Canadian dollars)

  • XRD data acquisition: $20/hour
  • Use of search/match software (Technician run): $40/sample
  • Use of search/match software (User run): Free
  • Sample preparation (Homogenization of solid samples): $5/sample