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Office for Research

Quantitative Bio-element Imaging Center (QBIC)



COVID-19 Response Update: QBIC services remain available only to support ongoing essential research and recovery activities. Limited support for non-essential work will resume on June 15, 2020. If you have questions or would like to schedule an upcoming project, please email

QBIC was established as a Center within Chemistry of Life Processes (CLP) Institute as a key component in an unprecedented collaborative, interdisciplinary effort to map the “inorganic signatures of life,” transitional metal atoms that are found within all living cells and conserved during evolutionary processes.

Operating under the direction of Dr. Thomas V. O’Halloran, the Center has facilitated this investigation by developing a suite of high-resolution instruments capable of quantitatively imaging biologically essential elements in individual cells.  QBIC’s instrumentation has enabled a team of physical, life, and material scientists to begin analyzing metal quotas at scales ranging from the subcellular level to entire ecosystems shaping global biogeochemical cycles.  This work is expected to yield a fundamental understanding of the co-evolution of microbial and eukaryotic life within a broad range of challenging chemical environments.

Complementing QBIC’s research mission is its role as a shared resource facility serving investigators within the Northwestern scientific community and beyond.  In this capacity, the Center provides researchers with access to state-of-the-art imaging and quantification instrumentation while supporting its use with an expert technical staff that offers a range of services, including instrument training, sample preparation and analysis, experiment design, and grant proposal assistance.

The combination of both extremely high sensitivity elemental analysis and high resolution imaging enables QBIC customers to perform cutting edge experiments with ample staff support.

Contact us for questions about instrument training, sample preparation, and any other metal analysis or microscopy related inquiries