Electron Microscopy for the Characterisation and Manipulation of Advanced Functional Materials and their Interfaces at the Nanoscale

Lead Research Organisation: University of St Andrews
Department Name: Chemistry


In 2013 we successfully applied to enhance electron microscopy at St Andrews through the Capital for Great Technologies scheme. The purpose of this new facility is to provide state of the art capability to analyse and control functional materials at the nanoscale to underpin and drive forward critical Materials research in Energy Materials, Catalysis, Photonics, Metamaterials and Electronics. All elements of the facility are well used and usage is expanding now that the new facilities have come on stream. Going forward, however, we are severely constrained by lack of facility operators. It is easy to project doubling or more of usage with a second skilled operator on the Scios and Titan in particular. Not only would this involve more operator time on the instruments, it would increase training time and afford more time for detailed studies.

Thus the purpose of this application is to secure the appointment of a second skilled operator for two years to increase productivity and indeed capability through more rounded coverage. This will minimise down time due to holidays, allow more than one of the key facilities to be operated by our specialists for research and/or training at a single time and most importantly will provide the space to train more users to a higher standard.

We also propose to increase the outreach of our facility in the region, holding two focused workshops and linking more strongly to Universities in our region. We also hope to link with the other major Materials Electron Microscopy Centre in Scotland to coordinate capabilities.

An improved web-based booking system will be implemented.

Planned Impact

Advanced materials underpin most of modern civilisation and touch every aspect of our lives from communications to healthcare. Advances in materials performance and especially materials architectures have enabled the great advances in communications and information technologies that have so dramatically impacted upon our daily lives. Clearly, advances in materials and materials structures will strongly enable the next generation of technologies from communications to healthcare and hence deliver significant impact by changing how we live as well as providing key growth opportunities for knowledge-based industries.

The increased usage of the Electron microscopy facility will not just benefit academic users at St Andrews, but will also greatly benefit our industry partners. We will also be to train more industry users to use our facilities, especially those co-located on the St Andrews campus.

The group at St Andrews has built its reputation in the more fundamental aspects of materials research; however St Andrews has increasingly recognised the need for translation of its findings into real applications. This been addressed by patents, licences, spin-outs and most importantly through co-location of Technology companies in the University. There now exists a strong engagement with a number of industrial partners involved in the development of new energy devices and functional materials. An important emerging opportunity to transition our technologies relates to development of a new Innovation Park ideally suited to prototyping and scale up. In 2011, the University purchased the 36 acre former Guardbridge Paper Mill to develop an Energy Centre based around biomass feedstock. The Energy Centre will only require a small part of the Guardbridge 36 acre site so it has opened up a unique opportunity to provide facilities for universities and businesses to demonstrate, test and develop prototypes at proof of concept stage before manufacture. It has the ability to become an "innovation bridge", mainly re-using the former mill buildings, thus achieving further carbon savings by avoiding the need to build new facilities.


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Description With a second operator significantly better utilisation of the facility has been delivered. More users, more companies and better research has been enabled. Importnat work has been performed on exsolution chemistry showing new mechanisms and new transition elements being exsoluted.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Chemicals,Electronics,Energy
Description The invention relates to a method of producing electrode materials for solid oxide cells which comprises applying an electric potential to a metal oxide which has a perovskite crystal structure. The resultant electrode catalyst exhibits excellent electrochemical performance. The invention extends to the electrode catalyst itself, and to electrodes and solid oxide cells comprising the electrode catalyst. 
IP Reference CA3030088 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2018
Licensed Commercial In Confidence
Impact -
Description ECECR2019 - Dr Aaron Naden 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Early career researcher conference: Awarded SCI prize for the best presentation (audience prize
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
Description Electronmicroscopy Symposium 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Planned symposium to promote the Electron microscope facility. A successful event promoting national engagement to UKRI funded facilities. Advertised internally and through ScotChem and SUPA
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://jtsigroup.wp.st-andrews.ac.uk/electron_microscope_facility/
Description MMC2019 - Dr Aaron Naden 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Dissemination of original research at an international conference.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.rms.org.uk/discover-engage/event-calendar/mmc2019-microscience-microscopy-congress-2019....