The facility provides a world-leading capability for the direct imaging of atomic structures as well as the determination of elemental composition, along with chemical and bonding analysis, in thin samples down to single atom precision. As such it supports the elucidation of structure-property relationships in advanced materials and devices for the benefit of the scientific user community, stemming from fields as diverse as condensed matter physics, catalysis, bio-materials research, chemistry, mineralogy, nuclear materials research among many others.
The facility’s electron microscopes are optimised for studies requiring single-atom precision and sensitivity and have the specificity of operating at low to medium primary beam energies (40-100keV). This is a highly sought after and specialised capability, deployed to minimise electron beam knock-on damage which can hamper the study of a wide variety of materials.
SuperSTEM specialises in multi-modal analytical microscopy, going beyond simple imaging thanks to the laboratory’s widely recognised expertise in electron energy loss (EEL) and energy dispersive X-ray (EDX) spectroscopies. In particular, the facility’s most recent instrument, a Nion UltraSTEM100MC boasts one of the world’s highest energy resolutions, enabling capabilities such as vibrational spectroscopy or band gap mapping at the nanometre scale. Further modes of operation supported by the facility include diffractive imaging (also known as 4D STEM), and in-situ electro-thermal testing of nano-scale materials (thanks to dedicated holders).