The Department of Electron Microscopy started functioning at the institute after the installation of the Transmission Electron Microscope in the year 1989. The instrument was JEOL JEM 100SX.
This is replaced by a new instrument in the year 2012-13.
The department is now housed with a highly sophisticated instrument, the "Transmission Electron Microscope" (JEOL JEM 1400)
This electron microscope can scan sections at magnifications ranging from 200x to 1,200,000x magnifications at a point resolution of less than 5 nm.
Thus, it is an indispensable tool in study of nano-particles and viruses since they can be visualized only at the high magnifications offered by the transmission electron microscope.
The instrument is also equipped with the following attachments
An Ultramicrotome (Leica ULTRACUT R) and a Knifemaker (Leica EMKMR2) are available for sectioning the tissue specimens before screening in the electron microscope. Diamond knives are also available for sectioning hard specimens
A Cryoultramicrotome (Leica EM UC7) to cut ultrathin sections from cryofixed tissue specimens under cryoconditions is also available in the department
By virtue of its high magnification and high resolution, EM identifies cellular features beyond the resolution of LM. By identifying characteristic diagnostic features at the ultrastructural level, the tumor cell type can be suggested which is a prerequisite for treatment
Thus, EM clarifies and amplifies light microscopic features. It helps in reaching an exact diagnosis in problem cases.
Particularly, it helps in confirmation of certain tumors where the diagnostic possibilities are reduced to a few light microscopically.
Several tumor samples, biopsies, surgical samples, fine needle aspirated samples have been processed, screened and tissue type identified using the ultrastructural features, especially in the case of poorly differentiated tumors, malignant round cell tumors, spindle cell tumors, anterior mediastinal tumors, etc.
To mention as an example, a rare case of Histiocytosis X of thyroid was confirmed by identifying the characteristic Birbeck granules (Langerhans cell granules), some arising from the cell membrane and some within the cytoplasm exhibiting the typical tennis racquet shape.
The process of diagnostic electron microscopy is the everlasting major function of this department.
The facilities in the department have been and are still being used by many outside students for their research work.