Surrey Multi-User Transmission Electron Microscope with X-ray Analysis and Tomography

Lead Research Organisation: University of Surrey
Department Name: Vice Provost (Research & Innovation)


The technique of transmission electron microscopy provides unique insight into materials. It allows researchers to see inside solids at extremely high magnifications, so that rows of atoms can be visualised under optimum conditions. As the name suggests, the instrument 'transmits' a beam of electrons directly through the material being studied. In this way, the internal structure of the material can be studied. There are three types of information obtained using these transmitted electrons: (i) TEM focuses the electron beam (just like the light in an optical microscope) to provides images of the physical structure, including the shapes and sizes of crystals that constitute many materials plus any defects at the atomic scale. (ii) The electrons can be diffracted (analogous to being reflected from planes of atoms) to reveal how the atoms are arranged in two and three dimensions in a material. (iii) Chemical information is provided via the X-rays that are emitted as the electrons travel within the material.

The addition of a modern transmission electron microscope, or TEM, at the University of Surrey will enable diverse research across the disciplines of chemical engineering, chemistry, electronic engineering, materials science, mechanical engineering sciences, and physics. The instrument will include facilities for X-ray analysis. It will also allow tomography, which provides visualisation of samples, often of organic or biological origin, in three dimensions. Tomographic images are created by passing the electron beam through the sample from different directions.

The TEM will be housed in a central facility, where it will be well supported and accessible to the entire University community. This instrument will enable many tens of researchers (including postgraduate students and early career academics), each year, to engage in multidisciplinary projects. Examples of the research, much of it supported by EPSRC, that this microscope will enable include: (i) developing higher efficiency energy storage technologies, (ii) creating new biodegradable materials, (iii) enhancing the performance of engineering materials and systems (such as for aircraft or automobiles), (iv) establishing the practicalities of quantum computing, (v) and developing advanced drug delivery and anti-cancer therapeutics.


10 25 50