Rendering the invisible visible

transmission electron microscope (Photo: EAM/Jan Kraege)

The new transmission electron microscope is three meters tall. To ensure miniscule structures can always be depicted at the highest possible resolution, it is located in a climate-controlled and vibration-protected room. (Photo: EAM/Jan Kraege)

FAU inaugurates new high resolution electron microscope

The Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU) is getting new “eyes” so researchers can study the wonders of nano-materials. At a ceremony on 30 April 2010, University President Prof. Dr. Karl-Dieter Grüske and the Bavarian Minister for Science, Dr. Wolfgang Heubisch, will officially inaugurate the TITAN3 transmission electron microscope and the building created specially to house it. With one of the best performing transmission electron microscopes on the market at Erlangen, it will now be possible to display the atomic structure of particles and materials with astonishing precision and even to grasp the three-dimensional construction and chemical composition in dimensions of thousandths of millionths. The event begins at 9am at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Systems and Device Technology (IISB), Schottkystraße 10, Erlangen. There is then the possibility to visit the microscope and its new premises as part of a guided tour and demonstration.

The ceremony
After being welcomed by Prof. Dr. Mathias Göken, spokesman for the Centre for Electron Microscopy and Nano-Analysis, part of the Engineering of Advanced Materials (EAM) Cluster of Excellence, Dr. Wolfgang Heubisch and Erlangen-Nuremberg University President Prof. Dr. Karl Dieter Grüske will say a few words of welcome. The Cluster of Excellence financed the 2.1 million euro device from its own resources. Its coordinator, Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Peukert, will speak on behalf of the organisation at the event. Then Prof. Dr. Erdmann Spiecker will present the new microscope and a few initial examples of how it may be used in research cooperation within the Cluster of Excellence.

We are proud to welcome top-class guest speaker Prof. Dr. Knut Urban from the Ernst Ruska Centre for Microscopy and Spectroscopy at the Jülich Research Centre to give a presentation at the ceremony. As one of the academics whose work has greatly advanced the development of lens correctors in electron microscopes in German, he will provide an insight into the new atomic dimension material research opportunities offered by electron microscopes.

The transmission electron microscope

Crystal structure defects, as seen here in a minute silver particle, are easy to identify using the TITAN3. (Photo: EAM/AG Electron microscope)

In transmission electron microscopes, electrons coming out of a fine metal tip are accelerated at very high voltage (ca. 300,000 volts) so that they reach 80% of the speed of light and adopt a very short wavelength around 50 times smaller than the diameter of an atom. It is this short wavelength that allows us to generate images enlarged by a factor of millions to depict individual atoms.

What is special about the Erlangen device is that the lens corrector, for the first time, allows us to compensate for errors in the electromagnetic lens. In this way researchers can reach even higher resolutions and examine particles, functional materials, nano-structures and interfaces with enhanced accuracy. This will also improve understanding of the connection between both production and material structure, and material structure and material properties.

At the Engineering of Advanced Materials Cluster of Excellence, scientists are working on a wide range of approaches to develop materials with new electrical, optical, catalytic and mechanical qualities. The transmission electron microscope will give researchers a new set of eyes to produce tailor-made high-performance materials.

Further information for the media:

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Peukert
Tel.: 09131/85-29400
Dr. Annette Tyrach
Tel.: 09131/85-20840

uni | media service | news No. 62/2010 of 14.4.2010

Addition information