25/09/2017 - 01:00


1.      Project summary


The ESTEEM consortium of electron microscopy laboratories for materials science and solid state physics brings together the major electron microscopy centres in Europe.


The project involves


I.    Networking


  • To spread electron microscopy across the community and to regions where the technique is not fully exploited at present and where it will help  stimulate economic growth.
  • To inform solid state scientists and engineers in Europe about new developments in this increasingly complex technique.
  • To improve the collaboration between different laboratories and set consistent standards for measurements.
  • To establish a shared hardware and software infrastructure and to develop open access standards for data exchange, storage and instrument control.
  • To offer remote access to the most advanced instruments.

II.   Transnational access


  • To open the major microscopy centres (Antwerp, Cambridge, Delft, Dresden, Orsay, Oxford, Stuttgart, Toulouse) together with their expertise to scientists from MemberStates or AssociatedStates.

III.  Joint research projects


  • To improve three dimensional imaging of nanoparticles down to the sub- nanometer, and possibly atomic, scale.
  • To push the limits of chemical and electronic mapping in nanostructured materials.
  • To develop improved detection in electron microscopy for rapid acquisition of images and spectra. 
  • To develop tools for nanomanipulation experiments inside the electron microscope and apply these tools for the study of dynamic systems.
    These efforts and objectives will not only strengthen the position of European microscopy, but also generate new technology for signal detection and support the European nanotechnology programme.

2.      Project objectives


Nanomaterials need characterization on a nanoscale. The ESTEEM integrating initiative on advanced electron microscopy in materials science offers a unique chance to consolidate and strengthen the European critical mass by combining the efforts of the leading groups in both the 'original' and 'new' EC member states. The objectives of the project are summarized below. 

I.    NA (Networking activities):


The mobilisation of a large number of stakeholders in the different fields of electron microscopy has the potential to create a high added value, but this can only be reached if the way the research infrastructures operate, evolve and interact with each other and with potential users is well balanced.
The networking activities aim to catalyse co-ordination and co-operation between the different users. This can be split into several measurable targets. A major effort (NA2) will be the distribution of new knowledge over the different partners; this will be under the form of workshops and brain storming sessions. This NA2 partially runs in parallel with NA3, which particularly involves EC countries where electron microscopy is less popular or less wide spread. The goal is to organise dedicated sessions and a web site including discussion capacity for advice. NA4 and NA5 aim to improve comparison between experiments in different partner laboratories. The aim is to create standards and compatibility between different methods, different instruments and different software packages. It is clear that for the European industry, aiming towards nanotechnology, this definition of standards is crucial. In the NA6 network remote access to more advanced (and expensive) instruments is proposed. At the end of the project, this access will be available for all labs in the network.


II.   TA (Transnational activities): 


The transnational access activities are set up to ensure that researchers from all over Europe have access to the best available infrastructure that is required to perform their research on an equal basis. The infrastructure offered within the project is the best available not only in Europe but also compared to the rest of the world. Each partner involved is able to provide leading scientific, technical and logistic support to new users. The success of the TA will be measured through the number of visitors and the collaborative publications. The ESTEEM web site with all available information will be the key communication forum.


III.   JRA (Joint research activities): 


All the JRA's are meant to enhance the potential and the attractiveness of the TA: JRA1-3 through scientific enhancement, JRA4-5 through technological improvements. Equally, the wide range of different needs of visitors within the TA will sharpen the definitions and fine tune the objectives of the different JRA's.
The joint research activities focus on the development of microscopy accessories and microscopy methods as well as on their application to nanoscience. The different JRA's are not completely independent. JRA1, JRA2 and JRA3 are all meant to image nanostructures with emphasis on morphology, composition, electronic structure and local (electric or magnetic) fields. The different JRA's have their own milestones, as to the resolution to be obtained, depending on the techniques used. JRA4 and JRA5 are filling the gap left by microscope manufacturers. Very high quality detectors and highly specialised sample holders are not commercially available and prototypes will be produced, eventually in collaboration with SME's. JRA 1-3 will benefit from the results obtained by JRA4 and JRA5. A measurable target will be the development of a detector exceeding all commercially available detectors and in situ heating and straining holders with superior stability.