The University of Manchester and FEI have announced the installation of one of the world’s most powerful high-resolution microscopes-the Titan™ G2 80-200 scanning transmission electron microscope (S/TEM)-at the University’s School of Materials.
The procurement of the new S/TEM from FEI was funded as part of an £8 million ($12.8 million USD) UK government investment for nuclear materials research at Manchester’s Dalton Nuclear Institute.
The Titan G2 80-200 S/TEM will enable researchers to study the structure and elemental composition of materials at the atomic level, assisting them in building a greater understanding of their behavior and modification under certain conditions.
“The new Titan microscope will play a critical role in our work to ensure the optimum performance and reliability of materials used in nuclear power generation,” stated Professor Grace Burke, director of the Materials Performance Centre (MPC), University of Manchester.
Professor Burke continued, “This research, primarily undertaken by the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Nuclear AMRC) and the MPC at The University of Manchester, will have benefits throughout the civil nuclear power supply chain. For example, enhanced understanding of the effects of corrosion and irradiation embrittlement on reactor pressure vessel materials can be used to aid future manufacture and extend plant life. Similarly, the performance and longevity of cladding alloys for fuel rods may be optimized with increased knowledge of the effects of irradiation on the atomic structure and composition of materials.”
The imaging capabilities of the Titan G2 80-200 S/TEM also bring new potential advantages for research on graphene, an area in which the School of Materials is highly active.
Two University of Manchester scientists, Professor Andre Geim and Professor Kostya Novoselov, won the Nobel Prize in 2010 for their pioneering work with grapheme-the world’s thinnest material.
The Titan microscope’s high-angle, dark-field imaging capability can potentially enable the discovery of new information about the electrical properties of graphene.
According to Trisha Rice, FEI’s Materials Science Business Unit vice president and general manager, “The installation of this ultra-high powered S/TEM system provides a significant new capability to support the diverse research activities both in energy and advanced materials development in the School of Materials at The University of Manchester. We look forward to the novel materials applications and developments that will be possible with this addition to the Electron Microscopy Centre.”