Life Sciences

Grape seed map

Life sciences is the field of the study of living organisms, including plants and animals from single celled microorganisms through complex life forms.  Microscopy is an integral technique used to understand the inner workings of cellular materials and structures.  Light microscopy can be used with staining techniques to investigate cellular components and to study the physical and chemical interactions of the various subcellular systems.  Higher magnification SEM and TEM are used to study greater detail in the intercellular materials, and also to visualize how materials change under various environmental circumstances and at different life stages. 

Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy is less commonly used in the life sciences, yet it is a growing field, due to the improvement of low energy X-ray detection capabilities with modern SDDs.  Chemical elemental analysis of an organism reveals the distribution of organic carbon plus elements such as nitrogen, sulfur, and potassium and many other important compounds crucial to life functions.  EDS can also be used to understand how an organism interacts within its environmental chemistry by uptake and exchange of local materials in air, soil and seawater.