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19 december 2018

Approved FOM programme


Number i37
Title Nr. i37  -The foundations for faster electron microscopy (FFEM)
Executive organisational unit BUW
Programme management Prof.dr.ir. P. Kruit
Duration 2013-2018
Cost estimate M€ 2.8
Partners FEI

The objective of this Industrial Partnership Programme is to make major steps in the advancement of scientific knowledge and technology in the area of electron microscopy and ion beam techno­logy. Making instrumentation faster is not just saving time for economic reasons. If the speed is increased above certain thresholds, it enables fundamentally new scientific investigations and new applications of the instruments in industry.

Background, relevance and implementation
Understanding the atomic structure of natural and man-made (bio)-components, devices and materials forms nowadays the basis for further scientific discovery and developments in nano­technology, biotechnology, micro- & nano-electronics, (nano)photonics and new materials.

This results in an increasing attention for characterization methods and equipment in nano­technology, biotechnology and advanced materials laboratories, both in (academic) science as well as in industrial R&D labs. Electron microscopy (EM) is one of the most versatile instruments for atomic-scale imaging and analysis. Imaging modalities are coupled to chemical analysis, and sometimes also combined with focused ion-beam columns to modify samples on nm scales.

The central theme of this IPP is: the need for speed. Clearly it will be advantageous to get the same results in less time. For industry this translates directly into less cost for analysis and characteriza­tion. However, the most interesting aspect of 'faster' EM is when experiments can be done which are simply not possible in a 'slower' regime. The themes addressed in this programme have the potential to achieve exactly that.

Ultrafast EM has the potential to extend the pump-probe type of (molecular) investigations to localized dynamic experiments. Applications might range, depending on the exact way the experiments are set up, from 'freezing' molecular motion in live-cell imaging; via crack propagation and phase transitions in materials, to local time-resolved probing of the electronic and/or magnetic properties in devices.

New ion-beam sources have the potential to radically change the way we can create or modify structures at the nm-scale in three dimensions. Ion sources are important in almost all of FEI's markets, but especially in the electronics market (sample prep), and nano-prototyping. It is the strategy of FEI to explore new technologies together with outstanding academic partners, as is the case in this programme.

The final evaluation of this programme will consist of a self-evaluation initiated by the programme leader and is foreseen in 2018.