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What is the Frontiers of Microscopy Virtual Conference?

The Conference is a free online-only event hosted by Materials Today, covering all aspects of microscopy, and bringing you some of the many fascinating developments that are taking place around the globe. Following on from a highly successful conference on microscopy in 2012, Materials Today has again gathered together experts from across the field to present their research.

This conference will highlight some ground breaking achievements, from electron and charged ion microscopy, to scanning probe techniques, to ultraviolet, infrared and x-ray methods: any and all applications of microscopy are welcome at the conference.

Call for posters *now closed*

To view the list of accepted posters, please click here.

Two poster winners will be selected: one by the Conference Chairs, one by the Delegates.

*Plenary Presenters*

Helium Ion Microscopy as a Novel Characterization Tool for Materials Scientists
Alan Bell, Trinity College Dublin

Live Q&A: 24th April at 4pm BST (GMT 1)

Helium Ion Microscopy (HIM) is a recent addition to the charged particle microscope family. HIM works under the same principle as an SEM, with the critical difference being incident electrons replaced with helium ions. Owing to its atomically sharp source and the larger momentum of helium ions compared to electrons, a sub-nanometer probe size is realized. HIM offers many advantages over standard SEM, namely, better resolution (0.35 nm), higher secondary electron yield giving higher surface detail, the ability to control charging of insulating samples without the need for a sputtered conductive coating as well as the ability to sputter specimen atoms and modify the material.

We will present an overview of HIM and its imaging capabilities. The results of high throughput resist based lithography will be presented, as well as results from studies into various biological systems, and the fabrication of gold nanogap electrodes using helium ions to sputter gold.

Nanoscale Imaging of Functional Electronic Materials

Peter Nirmalraj, IBM

Live Q&A: 24th April at 5pm BST (GMT 1)

Creating nanoscale architectures through imaging and manipulating materials at the nanoscale has been realized through the advent of scanning probe microscopy (SPM). From imaging single atoms to high-speed recording of dynamic molecular phenomena at the liquid-solid interface, SPM has triggered the field of two-dimensional nano-engineering thereby providing a route past conventional CMOS technologies.

In this presentation I will highlight the applications of SPM related techniques beyond direct imaging to address some key challenges in fabricating high-density nano-electronic circuits such as mapping charge transport across active nanoscale components ranging from carbon nanotubes, graphene to metal nanowires and optimizing their contact resistance with metal electrodes. Specifically, I will describe our recent experimental results at IBM Zurich on real space in situ mapping of molecular dynamics, optimization of molecular electronic properties through extrinsic manipulation with nanometer scale spatial resolution in liquids and building defect-free electronically engineered interfaces.

EELS and its Application in the Characterization of Low-Dimensional Materials
Rebecca Nicholls, University of Oxford

Live Q&A: 25th April at 4pm BST (GMT 1)
Electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS) can provide us with a variety of information, ranging from the identification of the elements present within our material to the way in which atoms are bonded.  EELS carried out within (scanning) transmission electron microscope ([S]TEM) makes it possible to obtain information from thin films samples or individual nano-objects. 

This presentation will start with an introduction to EELS and the information present within the spectrum.  I will then discuss the benefits of combining experimental EELS data with other experimental techniques and with simulations.  I will discuss several examples on low-dimensional materials ranging from monitoring the elemental composition of nanotubes whilst current is passed to identifying individual substitutional atoms in graphene.

Nanoscale Imaging and Analysis across the Cell-Nanomaterial Interface
Alex Porter, Imperial College London
Live Q&A: 25th April at 5pm BST (GMT 1)

The transmission electron microscope (TEM) is a powerful tool for imaging and analyzing the structure and chemistry of biomaterials interfaces with high energy and spatial resolution. This technique can provide detailed information about fundamental processes, such as chemical speciation of materials or mineralization, occurring at these interfaces. This analysis can provide insight into mechanisms of bioactivity or implant failure, how the toxicology of nanoparticles relates to their physicochemical properties or about tissue pathologies, such as osteogenesis imperfecta or neuro-degenerative diseases.  These methods can also improve our understanding of the mechanisms by which hard tissues become mineralized during bone development. However, these methods are challenging to employ. The challenge is to probe accurately, with sufficient resolution, the chemistry and structure of the inorganic and organic phases simultaneously. The integrity of the organic phase and the interface must also be preserved and adequate contrast must be achieved between the individual components.

This seminar will discuss the results of studies in our laboratory where we have applied state-of-the art transmission electron microscopy techniques to study the biostability of a set of engineered nanoparticles with varied physicochemical properties in the cellular environment. Application of new techniques to study the cell based mechanisms of neuro-degeneration and bone mineralization will also be discussed.

Nanoscale Studies of Hybrid Solar Cells
Caterina Ducati, University of Cambridge
Live Q&A: 26th April at 4pm BST (GMT 1)

The global need for sustainable energy production is pushing scientific research towards the development of inexpensive solar cells which can compete with established commercial silicon-based technologies. In particular polymer-inorganic hybrid solar cells based on nanostructured photoanodes have the advantage of low production costs and scalable solar power conversion, but exhibit relatively low efficiencies generally attributed to the deleterious effect of grain boundaries and interfaces on carrier diffusion lengths and recombination times.

By investigating inorganic photoanodes using high resolution electron microscopy techniques we are able to determine crystallography, morphology, surface and interfacial properties, which are essential for device optimization. I will discuss the case of TiO2, ZnO, and SnO2 photoanodes. I will also report on the 3D characterization of cross sectional solar cells by electron tomography, and the development of a quantitative approach to describe the fine-scale architecture of the solar cell.

Observing the Nanoworld: Electron Microscopy in the 21st Century
Valeria Nicolosi, Trinity College Dublin
Live Q&A: 26th April at 5pm BST (GMT 1)
With aberration correction, the world of electron microscopes has become sharper, more detailed and more interesting - much like the world of a short-sighted person trying on glasses for the first time. This seminar will start by briefly reviewing the developments that have made improved visualization possible, the development of electron microscopes and the new era marked by the development of aberration correctors for Transmission Electron Microscopes (TEMs).

Among the first materials to have benefitted most from these advances are inorganic nanowires made up from molybdenum, sulfur and iodine (MoSI nanowires). Other nanomaterials which have been at the centre of the most advanced nanotechnology research and that have most benefitted from recent advances in electron microscopy are graphene and graphene-like mono-atomic crystals. Aberration correction had allowed us to work to very low acceleration voltages, well below the knock-on threshold of the nanomaterials under investigation. This work will show how high angle annular dark field STEM allowed us to identify low-atomic number individual adatoms, vacancies and molecular-scale adsorbated in single-layer atomic crystals in which the nearest neighbors are 1.45 Å apart.

Sponsored Presentation

See the World through the Eyes of Science: From Planets and Life, to Culture and Technology
Jana Bergholtz & Tobias Salge, Bruker Nano
Live Q&A: 25th April 3pm BST (GMT 1)

Over the course of decades, analytical instruments have evolved into a new “visual sense” for researchers. With ever faster instruments, the types of samples that can be analyzed and the questions that can be answered have become more and more challenging.

After a very brief introduction to a range of analytical techniques and instruments, including EDS, EBSD, µXRF and micro-CT, Bruker Nano’s specialists will take you on an interdisciplinary journey. Beginning with the origins of the solar system, and progressing through an evolving planet Earth, the expedition will culminate with life itself and its greatest expressions of culture and technology. Every stop will be illustrated with exciting analytical results providing insights into different fields. We can promise you a fascinating journey at the frontiers of analytical technology.

Conference Chairs

Professor Valeria Nicolosi
Dr Stewart Bland

Who should attend:

  - Researchers from academia or industry interested in the micro and nanoscale properties of materials.
  - Researchers interested in the latest developments in microscopic analysis.
  - Researchers wishing to share their own work with their peers.

Interested in microscopy? Then register for our webinar on Imaging Heterogeneous Catalysts in the Working State.

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