Thin section preparation in the Sample Preparation Laboratory.

Our Sample Preparation Laboratory is well equipped with a suite of work stations for research in the physical and biological sciences.

The laboratory helps us to promote, support and initiate research and teaching through preparation and processing of geological, environmental and biological samples for textural, chemical and isotopic analyses.

It is widely used by our postgraduate students and research and teaching staff, as well as external clients including visitors from other universities, government agencies and industry partners.


The laboratory is housed in the Steele Building (Building 3). 

It is equipped with:

  • analytical balances
  • ultrasonic baths
  • a water distillation system
  • a large cold room for samples that require refrigeration at 4°C
  • glassware and fume cupboards
  • plenty of clean benchtop space for preparative work.

Sample preparation (crushing, sieving and mineral separation) and lapidary services (thin section preparation) are also available.

For more information, email our Tech Team at


See our price list


Find details about specific pieces of equipment in our Sample Preparation Laboratory.

Lapidary stations

The lapidary stations house a wide range of sectioning and polishing equipment that you can use to produce high-quality thin and thick sections of inorganic and organic specimens for microscopy and in situ chemical analyses.

slab sawSlab saw

  • 24-inch diameter x 0.1-inch thickness
  • For cutting large rocks from the field

sawOpen saw

  • 14-inch diameter x 0.070-inch thickness
  • For cutting regular-shaped rocks

Buehler Powermet saws

  • 12-inch diameter x 0.065-inch thickness
  • For cutting regular-shaped rocks

Isomet sawIsomet saw

  • 6-inch diameter x 0.020-inch thickness
  • For cutting small rock samples with high precision

Buehler slow-speed saws

  • 4-inch diameter x 0.140-inch thickness
  • For cutting small rock samples with high precision

Buehler Berthrehin trimming sawBuehler Berthrehin trimming saw

  • For cutting 500µm-thick sections for slides

trimming machineMicrotech trimming machine

  • 8-inch diameter x 0.032-inch thickness
  • For cutting multiple (up to 7) samples at once for thin sections

Kemet lapping machineKemet lapping machines

  • 2 machines capable of holding 35 slides at once for initial polishing to a 14µm grit size

Buehler polishing machineBuehler polishing machines

  • 4 machines can polish thin sections to either a 9µm, 3µm, 1µm or 0.25µm grit size

Crushing and mineral separation stations

Use our range of metal, ceramic and agate crushing, grinding and abrading equipment to powder whole samples and/or separate individual mineral grains for X-ray diffraction (XRD), chemical and isotopic analyses.

Jaw crusherJaw crusher

  • For crushing large samples down to cm-scale fractions

Disk millDisk mill

  • For crushing cm-size materials down to mm scale

Agate ball mill and tema millAgate ball mill and tema mill

  • For crushing mm-size grain sizes to powder
  • 2 mills are available, with 1 designated for crushing material for trace element analysis

Heavy liquid separating station

  • For separating materials such as MEI and LST

water tableWater table

  • For initially separating large mineral samples based on weight before they are further separated using the Frantz magnetic separator

Frantz Magnetic SeparatorFrantz Magnetic Separator

  • For the separation of a sample based on the magnetic susceptibility of the mineral grains using induced magnetic fields at various electric current settings to interact with mineral grains as they pass through the magnets at a set slope and tilt

Granulometric stations

Use our equipment for mineral disaggregation and sieving to determine grain size.


  • For separating clay

wire-mesh sievesWire-mesh sieves

  • Mesh sizes ranging from 2.36mm to 60µm
  • For analysing grain size