Installing the first Climate system in Australia at the University of Sydney

Installing the first Climate system in Australia at the University of Sydney

Standing next to the recently installed Climate G+ system: from left, Keita Nomoto, Lizhuo Wang and Dr. Hongwei Liu from the Australian Centre for Microscopy & Microanalysis

Recently, we celebrated the installation of the first Climate G+ system ever in Australia. For this event we interviewed Dr. Bhatia at the Australian Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis that oversees the Sydney Microscopy and Microanalysis core research facility at the University of Sydney. Earlier, he was key in the decision to purchase the world’s first Lightning STEM stage which established his relationship with DENSsolutions and ultimately lead to the installation of the Climate G+ In Situ TEM platform.

In this interview, we discussed the research needs of his facility and how they will benefit from the solutions designed and manufactured by DENSsolutions.

Can you tell us a bit about Sydney Microscopy and Microanalysis?

Sydney Microscopy and Microanalysis is the central microscopy facility at the University of Sydney. The University of Sydney is Australia’s first university and regularly ranks in the World’s top 50 universities.

We are a multi-user facility that services both the entire university as well as people from across Australia through the Microscopy Australia access scheme. Microscopy Australia provides access to member universities throughout Australia.

This means that we need to provide highly reliable, flexible solutions as we offer our instruments to users with a broad range of applications and skill levels.

Can you give us some examples of applications that your users are involved in?

Our researchers interests are many and varied. Some of the areas that are relevant to the new Climate system include:

  • Hydrogen generation
  • Methane breakdown as a consequence of global warming
  • Environmental corrosion of metals

It is hard to know what projects it will be used for as many users haven’t even presented themselves yet. But that is the point of buying versatile equipment.

In Australia, it is normal for funding for large equipment purchases to come from research grants. Can you tell us who won the grant to acquire the Climate?

A team from the Chemical Engineering Department working on catalysts were responsible for the bulk of the funding. Their contributions from their grant were topped up by the Australian Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis (ACMM). ACMM supports the operation of the Sydney Microscopy and Microanalysis facility.

What features of the Climate attracted you to this particular system and how do you see the DENSsolutions in situ system benefitting your research?

As a core facility working with researchers from a range of different fields we needed a system with flexibility to cater to their different interests.
Other features of the Climate that that we found attractive were the ability to interchange parts and the ease with which individual components could be replaced. The ability to perform dynamic mixing of gases provided an added degree of versatility.
All these factors contributed to what we considered to be a future-proof design that best suited our facility and the range of potential experiments of our users.
The ability to investigate dynamic processes and to be able to observe these processes in real-time was also important to us. By being able to observe the entire process takes any guesswork out of the equation and means that we don’t miss any critical steps where changes might occur.

How popular has the system been to date?

The system was only installed in November. So far, we have only had three operators and a technician trained, bearing in mind the Christmas, New Year break. We do however intend to train more operators in the near future and can see the Climate being an important research tool.

In your experience so far, how have you found the Climate system?

The installation process was quite straightforward.
The fact that the software uses the same platform as the Lightning system that we already have abbreviated the familiarisation process. The software itself is very easy to use and the system as a whole is very intuitive.
We have only performed some basic measurements so far, but are looking forward to getting into some detailed experiments in the near future.

Learn more about our Climate system and Nano-Reactor:

Discover publications made possible by our Climate system:

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1st Climate holder delivers new research results at FHI Berlin

1st Climate holder delivers new research results at FHI Berlin

Original article by Milivoj Plodinec, Hannah C. Nerl, Frank Girgsdies, Robert Schlögl and Thomas Lunkenbein. Published in ACS Catalysis.

In January 2016 DENSsolutions installed the 1st Climate holder with serial number #001 at FHI Berlin. The users at that time, Dr. Marc Willinger and Dr. Ramzi Farra, have since moved on to other institutes where they continue to use the Climate system for their research. In the mean time at FHI Berlin, new users took over the In Situ research activities and are producing excellent results with holder #001 which has since been upgraded with an EDS compatible tip.

Click here to read their recent publication in ACS Catalysis. The article demonstrates the stability of the Climate holder and Nano-Reactor. It also demonstrates the compatibility with other techniques like SAED and Mass Spectroscopy. By correlating all the data from these in situ experiments the mysteries of catalytic processes at the nanoscale will be unraveled!

“It was the combination of the DENSsolution Climate gas cell TEM holder with our homebuilt gas feed and analyzing system that enabled us to assign different parts of chemical dynamics of Pt catalyst to different activity regimes during CO Oxidation. The high sensitivity of our gas feed and analysing system ensured the detection of conversion, while the software and MEMS chip provided by DENSsolution ensured the stability over two weeks to perform experiment, even at extreme temperatures (up to 1000°C) for several hours.”

Dr. Milivoj Plodinec

Dr. Frank Girgsdies
Staff scientist

Dr. Thomas Lunkenbein
Group leader

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The ESTEEM3 project: Enabling Science and Technology through European Electron Microscopy.

The ESTEEM3 project: Enabling Science and Technology through European Electron Microscopy.

ESTEEM3 group members at the last GA meeting in Toulouse

Since the beginning of the ESTEEM3 project, in January 2019, DENSsolutions has been involved as one of the industrial partners. Our aim in this project is to promote and improve in-situ TEM technology by communicating and collaborating with ESTEEM3 partners in solving scientific problems from basic methodology development to characterising materials related (but not limited) to ICT, energy, health, and transport. Now, being in the 14th month of the project, we want to share some background of the project and see what has been achieved thus far. We interviewed Lucie Guilloteau who is the project manager of ESTEEM3.

What is the main goal of ESTEEM3?

The main goal is to provide transnational access (TA) to the leading European state-of-the-art electron microscopy research infrastructures, to researchers in the private and public domain. During the previous ESTEEM projects, 1 and 2, we have been able to build a strong infrastructure and develop procedures that now enable us to connect many users to labs all over Europe.

On our website, we make it easy for a wide range of academic and industrial research communities to submit their application. Each proposal will be assessed by a committee of renowned and external scientists in microscopy and materials science on 3 points: Scientific quality of the proposal, demonstration of the need for the use of the advanced infrastructure, and potential impact for academic or industrial innovation.

The selected proposals will be granted access to required facilities, made available by one of the 15 labs in our consortium. Think of sample preparation, TEM study and data analysis.

Can institutes outside of the EU also apply?

Yes, access for user groups where the majority of users are not working in an EU or associated country is allowed, but these groups are limited to 20% of the total amount of ‘units of access’ provided under the grant.
The project started in January 2019 and will run until December 2022. During this time period, our goal is to provide a total of 50 applicants from outside of the EU access to one of our 15 labs.
At the moment, we already have successfully provided access to 19 groups so we are ahead of schedule. If we look at the amount of access we provided overall, including user groups inside of the EU, which take up 80% of the total amount of units of access provided, we are at more than 30% of our project goals.

Who are the people behind the project?

The project is funded by the European Research and Innovation program Horizon 2020 under the Excellent Science pillar and coordinated by Prof. Peter van Aken of the Max Planck institute. The consortium list can be found here.

What other things does ESTEEM3 make possible?

Next to providing free access to the best European facilities and expertise in electron microscopy for the study of materials, ESTEEM3 members and SMEs also develop joint research activities. The goal of these activities is to develop new techniques in electron microscopy, study materials applied to ICT, energy, health and transport sectors and to improve automation and data study. And the last part of ESTEEM3 concerns education and training where we organise schools, workshops and webinars on electron microscopy.

“DENSsolutions is honored to be the industrial partner specializing in in-situ technology. We will contribute to the project by jointly hosting schools, advanced workshops and webinars and direct research programs in in-situ methodology development with ESTEEM3 partners. Aligned with ESTEEM3’s target to establish a strategic leadership in electron microscopy to guide future developments, we also aim to promote in-situ electron microscopy to the widest research community at large.”
Dr. Dan Zhou, Applications Scientist and main contact person for ESTEEM3 at DENSsolutions

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Driving the field of LPEM forward at the Gordon conference

Driving the field of LPEM forward at the Gordon conference

Last month, our Stream Product Manager Gin Pivak, CTO Hugo Perez and Microsystems Engineer Tijn van Omme visited the Gordon Research Conference (GRC) on Liquid Phase Electron Microscopy (LPEM). They were there to inform the LPEM community about our Stream system which allows researchers to introduce an accurate and controlled liquid environment combined with in-situ heating or biasing possibilities.
We realized that most researchers were still assuming that all liquid holders for LPEM are still relying on the ‘bathtub’ style (i.e. pocket structure where the 2 chips are placed). This is far from ideal, as the liquid bypasses the nano-cell and it only flows towards the window by diffusion in a non-controlled and spontaneous way. Therefore, it was a big relief for the LPEM community to learn that our Stream system now enables the real benefits, like (a) accurately controlling pressure and flow over the window, (b) controlling membrane bulging (i.e. controlling the liquid thickness) to enable higher resolutions, (c) enabling meaningful results in structure determination and analytical microscopy studies (e.g. EDS, EELS, electron diffraction), (d) controlling and mitigating bubble formation and most importantly, (e) reproducible experiments.
The Gordon Research Conferences are a special type of conference aimed at advancing frontier research. The idea is to bring all the relevant people in the field together to discuss and present (unpublished) results and to talk about the future directions of the field. All the major players in the field were present, and there was a lot of time for interaction. This created an open atmosphere, in which knowledge was shared and collaborations were established.
It became clear that the Liquid Phase Electron Microscopy community is maturing. LPEM offers a unique way for scientists to obtain information within a wide range of fields, including nanoparticle synthesis, self-assembly, corrosion, batteries, semicon, proteins and cells. However, compared to Cryo-EM, the field is still in its early days. A number of challenges still exist before results will be reproducibly accepted by non-microscopist communities. For example how to deal with the influence of the e-beam and how to control other influencing parameters.

‘Bathtub’ style LPEM system. Liquid bypasses the Nano-Cell and flows toward the window in a non-controlled and spontaneous way.

DENSsolutions Stream LPEM system. On-chip microfluidic channel enables full control over the liquid flow and pressure, thus the liquid-sample interaction.

On the first day of the conference, our CTO gave a presentation about the Stream Liquid Biasing and Liquid Heating system which resonated well amongst the attendees. The on-chip microfluidic channel in combination with the pressure control in the Stream system aligns well with the current and future demands of the field, as it enables control over the flow and liquid layer thickness.

Thank you for reading

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