3D Nanoscale chemical analysis: a FIBSEM-SIMS facility optimised for soft and composite materials

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Chemical and Process Engineering


The increasing complexity of materials that underpin advances in the digital technologies, additive manufacturing, healthcare, food, energy, environmental and fine chemical sectors requires a step-change in semi-quantitative, isotopic and trace chemical analysis from nanoscale volumes, contextualised in their native 3D structure. Furthermore, with urgent societal pressures for sustainable NetZero technologies, rapid analysis of both synthetic and natural materials over multiple length scales, can facilitate their improvement and optimal utilisation. An integrated UHV FIBSEM-ToFSIMS instrument provides an important tool for surface chemical analysis with isotopic and trace element sensitivity and also enables 3D nanoscale chemical characterisation of materials over volumes of 100,000 cubic micrometres via serial ion beam sectioning. This analysis fills a pivotal gap within correlative workflows for the combined structural and chemical imaging of materials at different length scales: between that probed by light and X-rays, and that obtained using analytical transmission electron microscopy, and ultimately atom probe tomography. The new equipment will possess flexibility to study both hard and also soft materials, via the cryo-workflow, thus increasing UK expertise in analysis of important, hybrid organic-inorganic materials. Such a capability opens up new horizons for the characterisation of complex soft solids (and potentially solid/liquid dispersions) used in a wide range of medical, chemical, structural and electronic applications.


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