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Joint centre for materials research infrastructure set up


The inauguration of Uppsala University’s new electron microscope, the Titan Themis, on 19 June was the occasion for a decision to be announced. This concerned the joint establishment of a national centre for transmission electron microscopy: CEM4MAT, the Centre of Electron Microscopy for Materials in the Stockholm–Uppsala region.

Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) is an important method in materials-related research. Today’s modern TEM with atomic resolution (<1Å, i.e. less than one Angstrom) is extremely costly infrastructure. Several years of training are required to become a proficient user in just a portion of the various analytical techniques available. This means that TEM studies risk being underused, although they make a valuable contribution to research.

“The new Titan electron microscope being inaugurated today is a vital addition to the leading materials research, and it feels especially pleasing to announce a joint initiative at the same time,” says Klaus Leifer, Professor of Experimental Physics at Uppsala University.

In the Stockholm–Uppsala region there are several well-equipped TEM facilities at academic institutions and research institutes with materials-oriented research profiles: the Electron Microscopy Center (EMC) at Stockholm University; the Electrum Laboratory at KTH Royal Institute of Technology; the Electron Microscopy and NanoEngineering (ELMIN) research group and the Ångström Microstructure Laboratory (MSL) at Uppsala University; and Swerea KIMAB. These facilities are also used to some extent by other universities, such as the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SU), Umeå University and Luleå University of Technology, but also by surrounding businesses.

“The skills and infrastructure at the various higher education institutions (HEIs) and facilities complement one another, which means that there are cutting-edge skills, sometimes world-leading, in most of the materials-related research areas. This gives TEM in the Stockholm–Uppsala region a unique combination of depth and breadth,” Leifer says.

Backing the joint CEM4MAT centre are Uppsala University (UU), Stockholm University (SU), KTH Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) and KIMAB. The aim is to take the international lead in the area. For the past two years, the HEIs have been working to coordinate their various activities to make both skills and infrastructure more accessible. Now they are taking the next important step: creating a joint centre. The initiative represents a joint endeavour to build knowledge among the HEIs and establish joint collaboration with the surrounding community.

CEM4MAT will:

  • Harmonise and coordinate courses at UU, KTH and SU in study programmes that include TEM, at advanced (second-cycle) and postgraduate (third-cycle) levels.
  • Harmonise training and provide specialist support both for TEM users, both new and experienced.
  • Guarantee that researchers get access to TEM in their research.
  • Expand knowledge exchange between the various facilities and the community at large.