Work spaces

Main cold room

The cold room is the place where sample preparation and experiments for analysis are carried out. It can operate at stable temperatures between -5 °C and -30 °C and relative humidities of 25 % to 90 %. It is equipped with all necessary safety measures (trapped person alarms, emergency exit door, air quality sensors, axes etc.). This cold room is accessed through a small cold anteroom that acts as a barrier to the outside, thus preventing abrupt changes in temperature and humidity in the main room.

Control room & workstation

The control room features a panoramic observation window to the main cold room. It hosts a workstation that controls monitors sensors and alarms (e.g. O2 and CO2 levels) and remotely control most laboratory equipment (cameras, microscope, etc.). In particular, we use an HP Z4G4 graphics workstation based on an Intel Xeon processor and a NVIDIA Quadro K620 graphics card, for controlling the automated DM6M microscope and for viewing and analyzing the images captured by the cameras of both microscopes. LAS X software for image analysis and a dedicated 3D joystick to control the DM6M’s automatic stage are also installed.


Manual microscope

IzotzaLab’s portable optical microscope especially designed for field work is a unique hybrid between the Leica DM750M and top-level microscopes of the Leica DM4/DM6 series. It combines the robustness, and simplicity of the DM750 frame, with the optics of top-level microscopes, therefore offering portability and lightness without sacrificing the image quality.

Fully automated microscope

IzotzaLab’s fully automated optical microscope is a high-performance Leica DM6M, which has been especially customized for the unique low-temperature conditions and needs of the laboratory. It offers the highest accuracy, reproducibility, and comfort, thanks to its computer-controlled 6-fold objective nosepiece and extra-large 3D scanning stage. Its multiple microscopy modes include bright- and dark-field, polarization,  fluorescence and phase-contrast microscopy.

Sample preparation tools

Band saw

The first step in the preparation of samples is cutting the material into suitable shapes. For this purpose, we have the Metabo BAS 318 Precision band saw that offers great cutting precision and two working speeds. It is coupled to a powerful vacuum cleaner to suck up any type of residue produced during cutting.


For the fine preparation of sample surfaces we use the celebrated Leitz 1400 Slide Sledge Base Microtome combined with a Feather system of disposable blades, which ensure a consistently sharp cut and the best sample surface properties.

Sample storage

In order to store the samples in a way that preserves their microstructure, we use two freezers which include an automatic CO2 backup system for protection against power failure.

Ultra-low temperature

Innova® C585 chest freezer (585 L, −80 °C) and Innova®, Green ‘G’ and CryoCube 740 series, (‘narrow’) CO2 backup system.

Very low temperature

Equitec EHFS 400/80 chest freezer (368 L, 400 W, −50 °C).

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