New advanced materials imaging facility

Posted on 15 Jul 2017 and read 718 times
New advanced materials imaging facilityResearchers at the University of Glasgow’s School of Physics and Astronomy ( are celebrating the installation of a unique piece of imaging technology — a xenon plasma focused ion beam microscope — in the university’s Kelvin Nanocharacterisation Centre.

Described as “a Swiss army knife for the nano-world”, this will allow samples to be manipulated — cut, sliced or drilled — by beams of plasma, as well as analysed via spectroscopy and crystallography.

Donald Maclaren, who played a key role in the installation of the new facility, said: “Focused ion beams are very useful tools. For example, we can now slice a sample up like a loaf of bread, take detailed images of each slice and produce a detailed 3-D image of the sample.

That could be useful for following a crack through a pipe or for checking the pores of a piece of shale rock that is under consideration for drilling by the oil and gas industry. We can also use spectroscopy to examine chemical variations in a block of steel or analyse the elements in a sample via crystallography.

“We can now manipulate materials on a larger scale and then, if required, pass them along to our MagTEM electron microscope — installed in 2012 — to look at in more detail.

“We’ve already undertaken a lot of exciting work for industrial partners, and this new facility greatly strengthens the capabilities of the Kelvin Nanocharacterisation Centre.”

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