Thanks to everyone who took the time to complete the survey. Generally you were very supportive of our work to date and of the additional aspects regarding sample preparation, data processing and modelling that we asked about.
Your views were briefly summarised and included in the Statement of Need we submitted to EPSRC on 15 October for the continuation of a Mid-Range Facility for Aberration-Corrected STEM from 2016 - 2021.
1) Have you been happy with the SuperSTEM service?
Comments regarding the service:
- Very good facility, excellent user support.
- Excellent support with sample preparation, during the visit to SuperSTEM and afterwards with data evaluation and processing.
have used the SuperSTEM facility to determine the atomic configuration
of planar defects in CdTe solar cells. The data obtained was excellent.
gain access to both world-class facilities and electron microscopists
simultaneously. Working with SuperSTEM staff inspiring new ideas.
Support staff also very helpful.
- Staff very helpful, but the
delay between applying and getting time was long (several months), with
delays in getting vacant slots also an issue
- Extremely helpful
and welcoming staff. I was provided with all the relevant technical
information prior to my visit which helped me prepare for my visit and
get the most out of the experiment.
- Excellent experience from
start to finish. Lots of interaction before the visit on optimising the
sample which ensured that we maximised our time a the session. Work
carried out on our samples by Prof Q Ramasse gave unprecedented insights
into the material and resulted in a high impact joint publication to
- The SuperSTEM facilities definitely offer the
possibility to obtain information from our specimens what is possible
only in a few place in the word. Moreover, from a scientific point of
view it is very interesting to come to Daresbury to discuss and to
perform the experiment with the researcher at SuperSTEM.
centre has provided outstanding and world class service. It has helped
for the better understanding of structure property relationships in
electroceramics leading to the development of new materials.
- Fredrik Hage and the other members of staff made me welcome and were very helpful.
- Quick, efficient and friendly.
facility, great flexibility of staff in accommodating needs, very
helpful with data evaluation, very proactive with publicising results,
great expertise in instrument use and data acquisition.
appreciate the chance to meet friendly members of service staff who
impressed me with wide knowledge about STEM analysis. Also communication
via email with staff members was easy and kind with quick response
time. They offer everything from analysis to data collection. They help
to solve research problems and they give a lot of advices for a good
data analysis. In few words: helpful, patient, understanding, kind and
- The staff is very helpful and hard working!
imaging capabilities of the facility are unparalleled in most of the
world. We have been able to conduct studies at the SuperSTEM that are
impossible to conduct elsewhere. The staff in particular are excellent;
they respond in a timely manner, are world-renowned experts in their
field, and will be part of our long term collaborations.
- Have only used indirectly through someone else's student
am a PhD student. I visited SuperSTEM three times. We used "SuperSTEM
2" for the project which we work together with Prof. Quentin Ramasse.
- Excellent local expertise.
came for two days in July 2013. The service was excellent. EG applying
techniques I had never come across (dark current improvement, haadf
hr-scanning within eels pixel, etc), supplying free usb stick for my
data, working a little late one evening to get stuff done, evening pub
visit, sample promptly returned by post.
- it is essential for UK
science to have top notch facilities. I was very happy with what came
out of the analysis on my samples there.
- SuperSTEM has proved to be a valuable support service to my EPSRC project
- We have lots of high quality data from previous studies, some of which has resulted in good quality publications.
- Excellent people and equipment that have got me some fantastic data!
service provided by SuperSTEM was excellent from start to finish. Dr.
Pennycook took time to meet with us before the visit; he understood what
we wished to determine from the experiments and made clear what was
required of us prior to the visit. The results obtained over the two
days have answered a number of our questions but also raised others.
- Unique facility providing very good support for our research questions.
- very good facility and skilled staff
- The staff were extremely accommodating and efficient.
am very happy that I could use world class microscopes, meet the
experts in the field and do good science with the help of this
- The service is very good. I think more commication between the user and the SSTEM centre was needed before the beam time.
- extremely friendly, helpful and experienced
SuperSTEM staff have been very professional and knowledgable in terms
of the instrumentation, handling samples, data acquisition and
interpretation. They are also very patient during and after the
- I am very happy with the service provided bu SuperSTEM. As a research student I found the service to be to the topmost level.
- Expert support is excellent, very helpful for a first-time users.
useful support from the dedicated SuperSTEM staff, both on-site during
user session, but also above and beyond in data analysis and academic
- The service provided by SuperSTEM has been very professional, and done in timely manner.
- I have only used SuperSTEM on a couple of occasions over the past few years and the service has been excellent.
- Excellent service!
- Very helpful and knowledgeable staff!
is the best place to go for all your STEM needs! Everyone was so
accommodating, knowledgeable, and great hosts. I don't think I could get
better data anywhere else.
2) Do you plan to make repeat use of the facility in the future ?
Comments regarding future use of the facility:
- Would depend on our need.
- There are a number of projects where we plan to use the facility, including the planned new instrument.
- No immediate plans but no doubt will use again.
we will continue to use the facility because of our overwhelmingly
positive past experiences. The SuperSTEM enables top-notch global
- An extremely helpful facility with unique possibilities for high-resolution imaging and spectroscopy, e.g., at interfaces.
- The project that I work is a long term project and further analyses are needed.
though the machines have always been fully booked for all kinds of
experiments and interests, it is really worth waiting for a few days to
gain a session, when a lot of high quality data can be generated very
quickly using the SuperSTEM facility and with the help of the SuperSTEM
- We are making a case for further time on the facility.
intend on carrying out further experiments at the facility relating to
other materials as I gathered more than expect valuable analysis.
- I would like to continue a path of research on my samples.
- We are continuing our work on graphene and will require high resolution imaging for characterisation.
- Not sure when, but would seriously consider it if necessary.
- maybe in the future with the monochromated CFEG
- I anticipate using the facility on a regular basis to characterise quantum dot structures
- Further studies of graphene-related materials using HAADF/EELS
- No immediate plans to apply for time
- We have new double perovkite thin films to study and need to look for ordering in them and understand what drives the ordering.
would like very much to use SuperSTEM in the future. The facility, as
it stands, is capable of providing results that can help toward a
greater understanding of ODS materials. To date our analysis has
concentrated on precipitates extracted from the ferritic matrix and
there are obvious issues with introducing magnetic material into the
column; however, if suitable specimens can be produced I believe
in-matrix analysis would provide further insight into this field of
- As a part of my
current and near future research, SuperSTEM will provide a unique
research capability and enable research plan to be fully released to the
that can currently not be done anywhere else concern HAAFD atomic
resolution imaging and low loss EELS of 2-D materials, especially with
regards to the arrival of SSTEM3
- The chemical mapping facility is very useful for our nanoparticles for biomedical applications work.
- Yes, but please also see comments below.
- We would like to be able to continue the successful collaboration that we have with superSTEM.
- Recent upgrades to the microscope (EES acquisition) have made further future experiments highly attractive.
- We currently have a proposal into to SuperStem and plan to incorporate into our research
- This facility will be beneficial to get high resolution images and to collect useful EELS data.
- Depending on where my research takes me in the future I hope I will be able to use SuperSTEM again.
have to reach conclusions from visit 1 before I feel I can plan future
use. But if things go well, I would certainly look forward to future
- No concrete plans yet.
I will not be in a position to directly put work through in the near
future, I will continue to encourage other users in other departments to
use the facility whenever appropriate.
you plans to make use of the new high energy resolution SuperSTEM3
instrument for band gaps measurements, surface plasmon resonance studies
and vibrational (phonon) spectroscopy?
3) Comments regarding plans for using SuperSTEM3
- Not at this moment in time however i am unsure of all SuperSTEM3's capabilities.
it may that one conclusion is that higher energy resolution would bring
big benefits, ie visit to superSTEM3 might be planned
are plans for band gap measurements in semiconductors and functional
oxides, as well as vibrational spectroscopy in glasses. Colleagues are
talking about surface plasmon spectroscopy studies and may also be
interested in doing this on SuperSTEM3.
- I have plans to make use of the the heating and biasing stage for in-situ heating and electrochemical experiments.
- measurement of the bandgap could be an opportunity to come back
gap measurements would certainly benefit a lot from the unique energy
resolution. Comparison with existing data, recorded at lower energy
resolution, will be very interesting.
- Very definitely, this is the way to go for many material systems!
could be useful for bandgap measurements of my materials (solar cells,
typical band gap 1.4-1.5 eV). However, I am not sure if the kV needs to
be significantly lower than that currently available (80 kV?) to
minimise Cerenkov radiation artefacts.
- band gap studies would be very useful, and increasingly important for device interfaces in, for example, new types of solar cell
- no current plans but maybe n 2015-16
- not yet in my plans
don't have any well defined plans to use SuperSTEM3, but the announced
capacities of the new microscope seems to be very interesting.
- I would like to learn more about this instrument, since these capabilities may apply to our future studies.
- Yes, I am very much interested to explore the high resolution EELS in low loss region, ( e.g for plasmonic device structures)
research of plasmonic properties of ultra small metal nanoparticles can
be raised to an unprecedented level. It is also very interesting to
explore the band gaps of quantum wells and quantum dots at an atomic
- plasmonics and localised bandgap studies of 2-D materials (graphene and TMDCs), if possible exploring vibrational modes also.
- We might want to use the machine for high-speed EELS spectrum imaging.
not myself directly, but other users in my department and other
departments could beneift from this extra capability and I will
encourage them to use the facility when I get the opportunity.
- Not yet, but depending on my future work the high resolution EELS may be beneficial.
- We work on CdTe films, which would find SuperSTEM3 useful.
am working with new semiconducting materials whose band-gaps have never
been studied in the past. This microscope will enable me to perform
band gap studies in the future.
- These plans are part of my recently awarded EPSRC early career fellowship.
am particularly interested in phonon spectroscopy which will provide
insight into the cooling mechanisms of hot carriers in colloidal quantum
- I work on CIGSe thin
film solar cells. The band gap of this material varies between 1.0eV and
1.7 eV, which means we need high energy resolution.
- Would certainly like more details about this.
- This will be fantastic to use, when will become operational
have plans in place to use the vibrational spectroscopy for better
understanding of dielectric loss mechanism in microwave dielectrics and
band gap study to develop high efficiency thermoelectrics.
new capabilities are extermely important for our work which involves
new materials at the nanoscale where we can tune band-gaps by
composition, the ability to determine band gap using this technique will
be invaluable. Equally the surface plasmon resonance and
vibrational(phonon) spectroscopy capability is of interest for
characterisation of metal semiconductor heterostructres
- Our interest is in plasmon resonance in SERS substrates and phonon spectroscopy in thermoelectric materials.
- I don't have plans to make this kind of measurements but I know people from my university who would be delighted to make it.
4) Are you supportive of the long-term support of this EPSRC mid-range facility, from 2016 for at least a period of 5 years?
Comments regarding long-term support:
my opinion, SuperSTEM plays an important role in the research landscape
of the UK regarding high resolution STEM and enables users to come from
outside to access world class facilities, supported by experts in the
- The facility has help
us to be established as one of the leading electroceramics groups in
the world with many scientific publications and presentations in
worth of this facility has already been proved over the last decade and
there will be a continuing need for this kind of facility in the long
- I believe that
SuperSTEM is an invaluable facility that provides state of the art
atomic resolution microscopy and spectroscopy, tools that are must for
level of involvement of this facility in work being performed across the
UK and internationally make SuperSTEM an essential part of the national
microscopy infrastructure. This is made clear by the level of
involvement shown at IMC2014 and MMC 2014
facility is key for enabling access to high end microscopy and
spectroscopy techniques in the UK. No other facility provides the open
access, fantastic instruments and capable staff.
facility is essential for universities that don't have access to
aberration-corrected microscopes and its continued support should always
- It is essential that the UK has this facility.
as already mentioned, the SuperSTEM is a germ of the EPSRC. Its
unparalleled research capabilities, supportive staff, and proven track
record of high-impact science warrant its continued funding.
- I can think of absolutely no reason to disband this facility, especially with new top-end equipment arriving.
long-term support from 2016 will enhance the world-class standing of
the UK SuperSTEM in terms of having the best research facility and
maintaining a group of high-quality on-site support staff. This will
provide a central accessible EM facility for the UK users, which will
also be beneficial to users from the rest of the world.
strongly believe that SuperSTEM provide unique opportunity for atomic
scale imaging and spectroscopy that is beyond what standard facilities
are able to offer within UK universities and worldwide, hence it is very
important for the health of top research in UK SuperSTEM faculty to be
supported on long term.
aberration corrected facility is extremely useful for smaller
universities such as mine, where such high end instruments are simply
not cost effective. However, there are now many aberration corrected
instruments available, both in the UK and Europe (through ESTEEM), and
the long term sustainability is perhaps better served by shifting the
emphasis to new microscopies, while also providing some amount of user
The new SuperSTEM3 is a step in the right direction, as is the 'merger'
with other facilities from the consortium.
facility is world class and is recognised as such by the scientific
community and its continued funding is imperative to maintain the
competitive advantage that SUPERSTEM has over competing facilities in
US, Japan etc- that is state of the art equipment matched by state of
the art expertise-
- Entirely appropriate facility for our long-term research strategy.
- it will be an unique facility
- I am likely to benefit from such support for the forseeable future
- I'm sure it's worth to support this project which helps to achieve targets for many researchers.
- Important strategic capability provided by an excellent team for a variety of fields.
- UK requires such a facility to maintain international competitiveness.
important to continue support of SSTEM, as this is the only Nationality
Facility of its kind. There might be a possibility of extending this
within a European Framework; it would complement other facilities,
especially with the arrival of SSTEM3.
supportive! It's not only expensive to buy and run these facilities.
More difficult to buy and accumulate is the expertise over the yeras.
- absolutely, should be continued and fully supported
5) Would you appreciate advanced sample preparation capability for ultimate STEM data acquisition?
Comments regarding advanced sample preparation capabilities:
personally have never needed it but I could imagine that a low kV ion
polisher could be good for final thinning to remove amorphous layers for
ion polished samples.
- Not relevant to my resrearch
investigations are limited currently by sample-related issues. Very
high-end preparation is currently unavailable to most UK scientists, and
this is a restriction on the effectiveness of SuperSTEM. This will
require significant extra investment in both capital equipment, and in
the staffing to provide this extra capability.
- The facility needs dedicated team for the advanced sample preparation capability then.
sample preparation is a very important point in STEM and the microscope
becoming more and more powerfull it turns out that the specimen
preparation is a key factor to achieve nice experiment.
As not every SuperSTEM user can access to the hgih end facilities
required to prepare very good specimen, this can be limiting the quality
of the experiment.
As it has been demonstrated in a scientific publication that a high end
and well aligned Focused Ion Beam (FIB) operated by high skill user can
provide very specimen, it should worst considering having a FIB at
- Sometimes, a final clean or polished is required.
- Makes sense to have those familar with the instrument to help prepare samples to obtain best results possible.
would always be helpful and would be appreciated, however I am not sure
this would be the best use of resources when sample preparation is time
consuming and sample dependent. I suspect this is a job best left to
PI's and students to co-ordinate elsewhere.
- I've not personally needed it, but I think it could be useful for others
- Yes, this is the main roadblock to use at the moment.
are times when your sample prep wasn't up to snuff when put in the
scope. Being able to react to that situation right there would be
- One of the
biggest challenges in transmission electron microscopy is sample
preparation. To date we have typically prepared most of our samples
in-house and mailed them to the SuperSTEM, where further preparation is
conducted. However, to have the capability to prepare samples on-site
from start to finish, using advanced focused ion beam and ion milling
instruments, would be a tremendous benefit. Not only would this expedite
the experimental process, it would also ensure that time is not wasted
imaging poor samples, improving the overall workflow.
- Sample cleaning and preparation can be a particular challenge for colloidal dots
- This might be useful in a handful of cases for me, but not essential.
nanowork requires a minimum of sample prep as synthesises however we
are also interested in their behaviour as layers in devices that would
require FIB cross-section and subsequent imaging
does not apply to my nanowires which are already small enough. The
sample cleaning that was provided (gentle 100degree bake) was great.
- Need high end capability not readily accessible in individual institutions
plus sample finishing
- The best final thinning and sample cleaning equipments are indispensable to achieve the best imaging conditions.
- Fine quality samples take time and patience to prepare and finilise. It's about knowing the specimen and the equipment used.
found that all the informations on the website about sample preparation
were clear and very useful however it would be great to have an
opportunity to prepare fresh samples just before analysis. It will be a
big advantage for them and I think this idea is excellent.
- It is always helpful to provide possibilities for specimen preparation also on-site at SuperSTEM; saves a lot of time!
is always a challenge for us to match up the sample preparation to the
requirements to get the best out of SuperSTEM. We have limited
capabilities within our department.
- it is not mandatory but could be appreciated for all of them does't have proper preparation tools
- Advanced specimen preparation at SuperSTEM would enable better output from SuperSTEM facility both in quality and quantity.
Moreover it would enable access to research groups that do not have expertise and/or lab infrastructure in electron microscopy.
- Not really helpful given the nature of our samples.
- An on-site FIB would be very beneficial. As would a glove box for storage of air-sensitive samples.
samples, being ferritic steel, are better suited to electropolishing
and extraction replication. I am not sure what can be offered in this
area of sample prep. but would welcome an advice.
preparation discussions are extremely valuable but being able to test
the sample preparation on site would be even better as ultimately most
measurements fail because of sample rep issues
believe it is better that the SuperSTEM staff focuses on carry out
measurements rather than spend time with the lengthy process of sample
preparation. Optimization is very time consuming and depends on the
material at hand. I prefer to make sure that the sample is good and then
visit the facilities at SuperSTEM.
- Plasma cleaning and precision ion milling would both be useful
- It depends on the progress in our projects. Up to know we have worked with powder samples but in future this may change
beam FIB would be very helpful, since not every customer has one, and
the SSTEM staff know best, what is required of a sample in terms of
features of interest and their position/cleanliness/thinness
6) Should the facility provide a state-of-the-art data processing capability?
Comments regarding state-of-the-art data processing capabiltiies:
experimental STEM images to multislice calculations is often essential
to quantitatively analyze samples. While the staff have been excellent
in regards to helping users work with such programs, these simulations
can still be quite computing-intensive. Thus there is a definite need
for remote data processing on high-end clusters that would facilitate
- This would be useful for the in-house research and user may be able to make use of it during their visits.
is best to have a central computing server at the SuperSTEM, which
users can also remotely log into for data analysis and interpretation.
This will help users to quickly process the data, which is sometimes not
straightforward due to the unavailability of some softwares within
their own research institutions.
tools (specifically the MSA plugin) are essential for getting the most
out of the data. Having access to this and other things would be very
useful for many people.
relearned the lesson from the times I was on the staff myself at a user
centre (NCEM, USA), and hosting a access scheme node (EPSRC TEM at
Oxford). That lesson is to encourage visitors to stay not only for the
instrument time and data acquisition, but also for computer time and
data interpretation. Back at one's desk, it suddenly becomes harder to
find time to devote to the task, and to find answers to the many
Perhaps then the yes answer to this question would mean not only desk
and computer, but also staff for further instruction and advice.
- Rather vague but sounds like a good thing to have.
- Always important
- would be very helpful for most customers, although not essential for all of them
all the users know how to do the complicated data processing. It will
be great if the facility can provide data processing capability.
- Always important if one wants to check whether a measurement was successful or not.
- One issue is access to the same software on leaving Daresbury
users going to SuperSTEM should have basic data process capabilities at
home. However, some modelling programe may not be available. Then most
users need training about how to apply the programe to aid data
- Yes, I
believe that this goes together with the measurements. Even the best
data need to be properly analyzed, and I imagine that often such
software tools are not available at the places users come from.
- Access to PCA codes and local scripting/utilities (for DigitalMicrograph, plus crystal structure data) would be very useful.
licenses are expensive. If users do their post-microscopy analysis with
the experts at SuperSTEM, they might benefit more than if done at their
- Probably, but I would need more information to comment in detail
- Such data acquistion requires experienced know-how to interpret results. This applies to all state of the art techniques.
might not have the software and the knowledge about how to process the
data. it would be very helpful if there are some computers in the SSTEM
centre for users to use and learn to process the data.
processing is essential to getting the most out of the experiments at
SuperSTEM. Resourcing this properly would have staffing implications,
and would expand the budget. This would need agreement from EPSRC.
- This would be useful but if it hinders access I would prefer to analyse the data myself
- It will greatly speed up the publications.
processing facilities across UK students are very varied. Having a
central (high spec.) facility would be very advantageous.
- For the wider community rather than our current activity.
don't have a clear opinion about that but I believe that such a great
instrument should have access to the highest quality processing unit.
am not sure what is meant by state-of-the-art data processing but if it
is data mining of spectrum images, then I think most groups already
have this capability. There might however be a case to provide PCA
- This would probably help move the analysis on faster than within a university.
the facility provide state-of-the-art EELS interpretation capability in
support of the enhanced
performance of the SuperSTEM 3 instrument?
Comments regarding state-of-the-art EELS interpretation capabilities:
- Yes, I believe that such a great instrument as the SuperSTEM 3 should provide wide spectrum of analysis.
EELS interpretation capabilities will be extremely important,
particularly for the EELS data obtained by the SuperSTEM3 containing a
huge amount of new information which are not easily accessible before.
is essential. There are some capabilities available by collaboration
with key academics at UK universities (e,g. at Oxford and Leeds), but a
dedicated person to work in this role is not currently funded or
envisaged in the current funding. It would be ideal to expand the
budget to cover this.
- This wouldbe useful but not essential
- Would like more info on this instrument but yes, always needs internal expertise for data interpretation.
- At least some guidence and references.
but this might involve a different set of skills and postdocs, since
the simulations can often be complex (e.g. DFT phonon calculations,
are still questions about the Physics involved in the phenomena that
SSTEM3 would be able to assess/ measure. In terms of electron-sample
interaction there are (genuinely) many unknowns. It is of great
scientific interest to get to the bottom of these phenomena/
interactions. It is therefore of paramount importance to support SSTEM3
by state-of-the-art data interpretation; and not only this, a research
project on this in its own right, driven by the consortium, should be
set up (funding applied for) at SSTEM. Even better, this could be driven
within a European framework (e.g., H2020 FET-calls)
ability to map complex nanstructures over1-2 atomic planes by EELS is
critically important for understanding of interfacial abruptness and
composition. A major area of interest in nanostructures is to understand
how dopants incorporate (surface or bulk) and state of the art EELS
interpretation allows the idenficiation of such atoms and their location
which is necessary for better understanding their properties for
subsequent device application.
usually have to take several trips back to the staff at SuperSTEM to
help us with this anyway so this would be an added bonus.
- The cost-benefit analysis is likely to be better with this support.
- Always important if one wants to check whether a measurement was successful or not.
all the users have experience doing the EELs interpretation and a lot
of time has been wasted finding way to do the right interpretation. If
there is an expert to help to interpret the EELs data, it will
definitely speed the research progress.
could be delivered either on specific data or more through an
enablement via training sessions. But it seems a waste to provide world
leading data without that being extracted at the highest possible level.
- Yes, because low loss EELS in particular does seem to be hard to interpret
is clearly important that the local team can provide full support to
get the maximum amount of data out of hte new capabilities of the
- Expert support provided to users would enable more rapid solution of problems in science.
- Exploring new areas in EELS will required a lot of work for the data analysis, that could be supported by SuperSTEM.
- I do not have any EELS expertise so would benefit from support in intepretation
- with 9 meV of energy resolution a new era is coming, than new power toward eels interpretation is a must
- This is too complex for the various aspects that would need to be addressed (plasmons vs. band gaps vs. phonons etc.)
- It will greatly speed up the publications.
of our work has involved EELS mapping of interfacial phases,
charge-transfer screening, and localized strain effects. EELS provides
information about light elements and unparalleled insight into local
bonding, orbital occupation, and more. However, as someone who has just
recently entered the field, the analysis and interpretation of EELS data
is very challenging. Hands-on guidance would be extremely beneficial to
- It sounds useful.