A new facility that will allow scientists to see the properties of materials more clearly, at the atomic level, was officially launched last week, at the STFC Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire, to an audience of leading scientists, industrialists and politicians.
The EPSRC National Facility for Aberration-Corrected Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy will open up easier access to the use of electron microscopes, which are tuned to take account of lens distortions, to scientific researchers from universities in UK and the rest of the world.
The new facility will build on the work already carried out at Daresbury which has, for example, enabled researchers to examine new materials including single atom thick structures like graphene, learn how nanotechnology interacts with biological matter and to see what causes diamonds to have distinctive colours.
Electron microscopes, like their optical predecessors, suffer from image distortion which requires powerful computers and a series of magnets to rebalance the electron probe used to examine materials, this is known as aberration-correction.
In 2003 the pioneering SuperSTEM facility opened the frontiers of electron microscopy to the scientific community by becoming the first user centre in the world to provide access to these types of corrected microscopes. Now, after a competitive tendering process, EPSRC has awarded the SuperSTEM Consortium the status of National Facility for Aberration-Corrected STEM which will build on EPSRC’s previous investment in this resource.
Super STEM Chair Professor Rik Brydson said: “Electron microscopy has undergone a revolution in recent years with leaps in the performance of electron optical elements, sources and detectors. While instruments are becoming ever more powerful their complexity is also multiplied. This trend places renewed emphasis on national facilities that gather in one place state-of-the-art instrumentation and world-leading experts in the field. This new facility will do just that and is already bringing in results that open up new opportunities in science. We are most grateful to EPSRC for its support for our work.”
EPSRC’s Head of Physical Sciences, Dr Andrew Bourne said: “This National Facility will provide UK researchers with an internationally renowned resource in which they can carry out exciting experiments at the nanoscale. EPSRC is pleased to be working with the SuperSTEM Consortium and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) to open up this new vista for microscopy.”
Professor Colin Whitehouse of STFC and a member of the Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus Joint Venture Board said: “As a partner in both national science and innovation campuses, STFC is delighted that the EPSRC National Facility for Aberration-Corrected Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy will be located at Daresbury. This superb facility will be an important asset to both the academic and industrial communities, and make the Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus an even more attractive place to develop important new scientific ideas and products.”
This story is reprinted from material from EPSRC, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier. Link to original source.