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CAMDU operation during the COVID-19 pandemic

All information on this page is subject to change at short notice, please check back regularly.

CAMDU welcomes input from users and PIs to ensure smooth operation during the pandemic.

Rules at the microscopes

Each microscope has a set of guidelines for use placed on the door and next to the microscope. Briefly they cover: room occupancy, cleaning the microscope, requesting help, etc. We have in place another sign-up form to ensure all users understand and agree to these updated guidelines.

Room access

Microscope rooms have at least 6 air changes per hour. At this rate, it takes 46 minutes to get 99% exchange and therefore equivalent removal or remaining airborne particles. For this reason, it is important that there is a time gap between one slot finishing and another starting. Many rooms have greater flow rates so as a working compromise we have decided all users must finish their slot on time and the next users is to wait 30 minutes minimum before entering. Users are welcome to wait the 46 minutes if preferred but must still ensure they finish their session on time.

The CAMDU booking system has the ability to include at least 30 minute gaps between bookings. If you would like your microscope to be included in the booking system to take advantage of this functionality please let us know and we would be happy to help.

To aid in writing risk assessments, we have written a list of the microscopes and where they can be found.

Microscope booking rules

Booked Scheduler will still be used for booking use of the microscopes. While research is being restarted and we won’t know for a while what demand will be like we expect the booking rules to evolve quickly. We suggest, but won’t initially enforce, the rules outlined below. Suggested changes to this greatly received:

  • Book in 3 hour slots, one per day (6am-9am, 10am-1pm, 2-5pm, 6-9pm).
  • 3 slots per week.
  • Maximum of two overnight slots per week, not on concurrent nights.
  • Booking in advance according to the tier system.
  • Don’t book above what you think you will need “just in case”.

There may be times when certain systems will be in high demand and fair access will rely on users talking with each other and agreeing what is fair, please be understanding towards others.

Lone working

Lone working at the microscopes will be highly likely with the initial low occupancy of the buildings, CAMDU recommends the buddy system outlined in the Lone Working SOP for those working alone in a microscope room outside the hours of 8 am-7 pm.


The risk assessment for in-person training has been approved so training can resume. Current restrictions mean training may take longer than it did previously and your patience is appreciated. CAMDU may pause or limit in-person training at any time depending on changing circumstances.

Training new techniques on already-known systems might be possible through remote access by a CAMDU member, please ask in advance of planning experiments.

Microscopy as a service

In an attempt to limit in person training for the foreseeable future, CAMDU will aim to perform essential imaging experiments for untrained users. CAMDU is also available to perform imaging for those who are shielding or might have other personal commitments (e.g. childcare) which prevent them from entering the labs.

Depending on the system, it may be possible to set up remote access for the user so they will be able to “sit-in” on the imaging session and direct the operator to the regions of interest. Plans for sample handover will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Please be aware that at times CAMDU members must travel in using public transport so please be considerate when requesting service microscopy.


We understand that time at the microscopes will be precious and issues with the systems could be more problematic than usual. However, current guidelines suggest that we should not be travelling into work in the anticipation of problems with systems and instead should be working from home whenever possible. We also need to be prepared for CAMDU staff needing to self-isolate or becoming ill, which will necessitate working from home or limited support.

Users are requested to use an electronic form to notify CAMDU of any problems with the microscope. Even if a CAMDU member is in the building we ask users still request help through the form or by phone to limit face-to-face interaction.

We will initially try to assist through remote means, either by remote access or video call. If we are required to enter the room the user will need to exit the room first.

Given the increase in times of day that people may be working at the microscopes to maintain social distancing in the building, we will try to help whenever possible but cannot promise remote help outside of core working hours (tbc and subject to change).

In the current situation, we anticipate external engineers visiting to be a last resort and we will aim to fix problems ourselves, with the remote help from engineers if required. This may mean fixes happen more slowly and we will make sure we keep everyone updated as much as possible.

Remote access to analysis PCs

We realise that many people may not have access to high-end computing and/or specialist software to be able to perform their image analysis. We are aiming to allow remote access to as many of the image analysis PCs as possible, which are bookable through the booking calendar.