An Aberration Corrected STEM with Integrated Science Driven AI to Quantify Dynamic Functionality in Advanced Energy Technologies and Biomaterials

Lead Research Organisation: University of Liverpool
Department Name: Material, Design & Manufacturing Eng


We will install a 300kV aberration corrected STEM that utilises artificial intelligence (AI) to simultaneously improve the temporal resolution and precision/sensitivity of images while minimizing the deleterious effect of electron beam damage. Uniquely, this microscope goes beyond post-acquisition uses of AI, and integrates transformational advances in data analytics directly into its operating procedures - experiments will be designed by and for AI, rather than by and for a human operator's limited visual acuity and response time. This distributed algorithm approach to experimental design, is accomplished through a compressed sensing (CS) framework that allows measurements to be obtained under extremely low dose and/or dose rate conditions with vastly accelerated frame rates. Optimizing dose / speed / resolution permits diffusion to be imaged on the atomic scale, creating wide-ranging new opportunities to characterise metastable and kinetically controlled materials and processes at the forefront of innovations in energy storage and conversion, and the wide range of novel engineering/medical functionalities created by nanostructures, composites and hybrid materials. The microscope incorporates in-situ gas / liquid / heating / cryo and straining / indentation stages to study the dynamics of synthesis, function, degradation / corrosion and regeneration / recycling on their fundamental length and time scales. It will be housed in the Albert Crewe Centre (ACC), which is a University of Liverpool (UoL) shared research facility (SRF) specialising in new experimental strategies for high-resolution/operando electron microscopy in support of a wide range of academic/industrial user projects. UoL supports all operational costs for the SRFs (service contracts, staff, consumables, etc), meaning that access to the microscope will always be "free at the point of use" for all academic users. This open accessibility is managed through a user-friendly online proposal submission and independent peer review mechanism linked to an adaptable training/booking system, which allows the ACC to provide extensive research opportunities and training activities for all users. In particular, for early career scientists, we commit experimental resources supporting UoL's commitment to the Prosper project for flexible career development and the Research Inclusivity in a Sustainable Environment (RISE) initiative that is creating a research culture maximising inclusivity and diversity synergistically with encouraging creativity and innovation. This new microscope aligns to several priority areas of research into materials, energy and personalised medicine at the UoL, priority research areas of EPSRC and national facilities in electron microscopy, imaging and materials science, and UKRI plans for infrastructure growth ( In addition to supporting extensive research programs at UoL linked to investments in the Materials Innovation factory (MIF), the Stephenson Institute for Renewable Energy (SIRE) and the new Digital Innovation Facility (DIF), this unique and complimentary microscope will be affiliated to and leverage from partnership with the national microscopy facilities at Harwell (ePSIC) and Daresbury (UKSuperSTEM) and the Henry Royce Institute, as well as form extensive research links to the Rosalind Franklin Institute and the Faraday Institution. We have established (and will expand through outreach activities) an extensive network of partners/collaborators from the N8 university group, Johnson Matthey and NSG, the Universities of Swansea, Birmingham, Warwick, Oxford, Cambridge, Loughborough, Edinburgh and Glasgow and Northwest UK area SME's as well as from universities in the USA, Ireland, Germany, Japan, France, Italy, Denmark, India, Singapore, China, South Africa and Spain who will create a dynamic, innovative and collaborative community driving the long-term research impact of this facility.


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