Electron microscopes are extremely complex and highly technical machines that are able to achieve magnifications much greater than any compound light microscope and because of this they command a relatively high price.
The price of a new electron microscope can range from $80,000 to $10,000,000 depending on certain configurations, customizations, components, and resolution, but the average cost of an electron microscope is $294,000. The price of electron microscopes can also vary by type of electron microscope. The cost of a scanning electron microscope (SEM) can range from $80,000 to $2,000,000. The cost of a transmission electron microscope (TEM) can range from $300,000 to $10,000,000. The cost of a focused ion beam electron microscope (FIB) can range from $500,000 to $4,000,000.
There can be a high degree of variation in the cost of an electron microscope between manufacturers and models. Pricing for electron microscopes is typically only available upon request for quotation after requirement analysis and specifications are taken from the potential buyer. However, I have gathered some prices from used electron microscopes and included the estimated cost if the microscope were new to give you a sense of the different costs by electron microscope type and model.
|Model||Type||Used Price||Estimated Price (New)|
|FEI Tecnai F20||TEM||$395,000||$592,500|
|FEI Tecnai G2 F30 Twin||TEM||$395,000||$592,500|
|FEI Altura 810||SEM||$350,000||$525,000|
|Philips CM 200F TWIN||TEM||$300,000||$450,000|
|FEI Tecnai 20 TWIN||TEM||$300,000||$450,000|
|FEI Strata 210||SEM||$250,000||$375,000|
|JEOL 1200ex II||TEM||$250,000||$375,000|
|FEI FIB 800-M||FIB||$250,000||$375,000|
|FEI Tecnai 12||TEM||$225,000||$337,500|
|FEI Quanta 200||SEM||$200,000||$300,000|
|FEI FIB 200-S||FIB||$200,000||$300,000|
|Philips CM 120 BT||TEM||$175,000||$262,500|
|FEI FIB 200-M||FIB||$175,000||$262,500|
|ZEISS EVO 50||SEM||$150,000||$225,000|
|Philips CM 120||TEM||$150,000||$225,000|
|JEOL 1200ex I||TEM||$150,000||$225,000|
|Philips CM 100||TEM||$150,000||$225,000|
|FEI FIB 200-P||FIB||$150,000||$225,000|
|FEI Quanta 400||SEM||$130,000||$195,000|
|Philips EM 208||TEM||$125,000||$187,500|
|Zeiss EVO 40||SEM||$95,000||$142,500|
What Factors Affect Electron Microscope Cost?
Configurations, customizations, sample accommodation, components, and achieved resolution are the ultimate drivers in the cost of the electron microscope. However, there are other notable costs that are often overlooked during the buying process. Training, setup and deployment, as well as logistical costs can all contribute to the total cost of ownership of an electron microscope.
Electron microscopes are highly specialized machines typically bought for specific purposes so certain configurations can be elected that can affect the price. For example, choosing a high contrast high resolution lens over the standard lens can contribute to a noticeable cost variance. Some transmission electron microscopes can include a configuration option that allows for a triple beam system. There are also configurations that can dictate where the detector is placed that affect cost. Some electron microscopes even offer a single or dual monitor configuration that are more geared to productivity instead of image resolution.
Different manufacturers offer many different customizations and special features that can be added to the electron microscope. Depending on how many customizations and the complexity of them they can really start to add up. Some examples of customizations are:
- Static electronic backscatter diffraction (EBSD)
- Custom design for a fully focusing WDS spectrometer
- Tensile and heating stages
- Radiation shielding known as hot cells
Another factor that affects the cost of electron microscopes is sample accommodation. Depending on the type of specimens being observed there may be special requirements regarding weight, size, ventilation, or barriers required to accommodate the specimen. Depending on the requirements for specimen accommodation this can dictate either customizations to the electron microscope or picking a different electron microscope altogether.
Some high resolution electron microscopes can resolve images at around 0.18 nanometers. There are specific objective lens and imaging systems that are required to achieve these high levels of resolution and they are not cheap. High end electron microscopes will have low kilovolt specifications that allow high resolution on specimens that are beam sensitive.
There are many different components that can contribute to price differences among electron microscopes, but the majority of variation can come from these components:
- Emitter – The emitter is the source of the electrons and can come in three different types. The first type is a tungsten filament. This is the most common type of emitter and is made out of high grade tungsten. The other two types are a solid state crystal and a field emission gun.
- Detectors – In short, several detectors are used to detect scattered electrons that help to produce the electron microscope image.
- Stage controls – Stage controls allow the specimen to be rotated, raised, lowered, and tilted. Depending on the type of stage controls there may be 5 axes of control.
- Image display – Depending on the electron microscope there could a wide variety of image displays that could come with the system. Some common configurations are large screen, single image, dual image, and quad image displays.
What to Look for When Purchasing an Electron Microscope
Beyond the obvious cost considerations of buying an electron microscope, careful consideration should be paid to a few other aspects that can affect your decision.
- Primary Observation Requirements – What are the primary specimens that will be observed with the electron microscope and what special requirements may be needed to observe them? How large are the specimens that are going to be observed? Electron microscopes can come with many different levels of sample accommodation and you need to ensure the type of specimens that will be observed are able to be accommodated by the electron microscope.
- Resolution relative to voltage – traditionally samples were coated in a metallic layer in order to achieve the desired resolution at the high voltages. However, electron microscopes today compensate for this by offering low-accelerating voltages that eliminate the need to taint a sample. However, this can also be a critical cost factor.
- Total cost of ownership – Beyond the list price there are ongoing costs that go along with owning an electron microscope. There are things like recurring maintenance, cost of running the system, and associated consumables. Aside from these things there are other costs of ownership such as training costs, and initial system installation and setup. The final consideration is opportunity cost of ownership that is the decision of buying versus leasing and the ability to upgrade to new technology that may become available. If you lease you will more often have a higher cost of use compared outright purchase, but you also don’t have to worry about resell if you do need to upgrade to a newer system. This decision will be based primarily on the financial situation of your organization and primary requirements for the system.
Electron microscopes are extremely expensive and require months of planning and consideration before a purchase can be made. In this article you have seen some examples of used electron microscope prices to give you a sense of what some electron microscopes can be resold at as well as the estimated costs that they were originally sold at. I hope with the examples provided and some of the things that should be taken into consideration before purchase, you will be equipped with the knowledge needed to proceed forward in your important purchase.