Project DIG has supported acquisition of a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) fitted with an Energy Dispersive Spectrometer (EDS) at Museum of Tropical Queensland (MTQ) in Townsville, transforming the way we conduct research on specimens from our biodiversity and palaeontology collections. The SEM is streamlining the imaging process for our collection allowing our researchers to develop a digital library which will help to identify specimens, contribute to further research and in the case of Great Barrier Reef specimens, help to inform conservation efforts.

This new infrastructure provides high resolution images of microscopic details of specimens, allowing researchers to see and quantitatively compare features that are not visible to the naked eye or even a light microscope. With the EDS, the chemical composition of different structures can be identified across specimens and compared between samples. Although a small piece of the research puzzle, the SEM is a vital step in the process of understanding the specimens in our collection, providing valuable insights into Queensland’s past, present and future.

Watch our video below to find out how the SEM works.

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Using the SEM in bryozoan research

The use of a scanning electron microscope is transforming the way we conduct our research on specimens such as bryozoans.

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Using the SEM in coral research

The use of a scanning electron microscope assists our researchers to accurately re-identify coral specimens in the collection.

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Using the SEM in palaeontology

The incredible magnification of the SEM allows our researchers to investigate minute details of fossil specimens.