Installing South Korea’s second Stream system at Seoul National University

Installing South Korea’s second Stream system at Seoul National University

DENSsolutions Installing South Korea's second Stream system at Seoul National University

The team at SNU (From left to right) Prof Jungwon Park, Back Kyu Choi, Minyoung Lee and Junyoung Heo.

With the second ever installation of a Stream LPEM Solution in South Korea, we get an insider’s look at the microscopy laboratory at the Seoul National University. We interviewed Prof Jungwon Park from the National Center for Inter-University Research Facilities to find out how our solutions will benefit their research when investigating synthetic mechanisms of inorganic nanocrystals.

Can you tell us a bit about the microscopy facility at Seoul National University SNU?

Seoul National University has a shared research facility called NCIRF (National Center for Inter-University Research Facilities) that has specialities in various fields of analysis, such as organic, inorganic, surface analysis, and x-ray techniques. NCIRF also has a special team in electron microscopy, which provides SEM, TEM, and other pretreatment equipment including FIB and Nanomill.

This shared facility was established around 30 years ago. Recently, two spherical aberration-corrected TEM and STEM, JEM-ARM200F, were installed, providing atomic-resolution electron microscopy images. Also, in our own center, the Institute for Basic Science Center for Nanoparticle Research, we have our own JEOL JEM-2100F TEM in our building which is utilized routinely for a lot of in situ EM studies.

What type of applications are your users interested in with regards to the Stream system installed?

Our users are interested in various nanocrystal dynamics. Regarding the Stream system, we are expecting to investigate the synthetic mechanism of colloidal inorganic nanocrystals by changing the liquid cell temperature and injected precursor solution. Also, we are planning to investigate transformation phenomena of colloidal nanocrystals in various liquid environments. Moreover, we are expecting to observe polymers or proteins in liquid, and their stimuli-responsive reactions using the Stream system.

What particular features of the DENSsolutions Stream solution attracted you to the system?

When it comes to liquid cell TEM experiments, it is crucial to ensure that a controlled amount of liquid is injected to the desired position, while minimizing the decrease in spatial resolution of TEM stemming from the window bulging effect. In this sense, the Stream system by DENSsolutions was quite attractive to us.
With ensured liquid flow from Nano-cell design, controlled injection of liquid, as well as mitigated window- bulging originating from the pressure-based liquid pump, and also along with the liquid heating control system, the Stream solution seemed to help us to design various in situ liquid cell systems which were unachievable with other in situ holders.

What particular features of Stream attracted you to the system?

For our experiments, it was essential to find a way to control the flux of the liquid within the liquid cell in order to look at reactions or processes occurring on the location of the electron beam. This is something we were unable to do with previous generations of holders and chips. The DENSsolutions Stream system is the only system that allows you to completely control the liquid flux. This unique capability is what intrigued us most about the system.
Moreover, as a result of the Nano-cell’s special inlet-outlet design, we are also able to fully control the pressure and liquid thickness. Other features that we found very attractive include the control systems like the heating control unit and the pressure-based pump, which are considerably more elaborate compared to what we had in the past.

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

At first, the Stream system was quite complicated to us since a lot of elaborate systems were installed. But soon we realized that it was much simpler than it seemed. The method to assemble the Stream holder was easy compared to other liquid cell TEM holders, and the way to control the injection solution was straightforward. And since a lot of O rings are used to encapsulate the Nano-cell, the holder seems to be very stable without leakage problems while operating the TEM. Also, the heating control software was upgraded from the Wildfire version, making it much easier to use the program.

DENSsolutions Prof. Jungwon Park

Jungwon Park, Ph.D
Associate Professor | Seoul National University

Jungwon Park received his B.S. degree from the Department of Chemistry, POSTECH, South Korea, in 2003, and his Ph.D. degree from the Department of Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley, in 2012. After a post-doc with the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, he started a faculty position with the School of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Seoul National University, in 2016, and he currently serves as an associate professor jointly affiliated with the Center for Nanoparticle Research, Institute for Basic Science (IBS). His research areas include the in-situ study of nanomaterials, liquid-phase TEM, phase transitions, interface chemistry, and low-dimensional materials.

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Announcing the establishment of the DICP-DENS Microscopy Centre

Announcing the establishment of the DICP-DENS Microscopy Centre

From left to right: Wei Liu, Yu Xiao, Lijian Geng, Yan Jin, Dan Zhou, Xi Liu

We believe that it is now more important than ever to expand our efforts in enabling fundamental research in the fields of catalysis and sustainable energy. In line with the emphasis we place on multinational collaborations, we have partnered with the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics (DICP) in China in order to accelerate these fields and achieve results together. To celebrate the establishment of the DICP-DENS in-situ electron microscopy technology application laboratory, an exciting ceremony was recently held at DICP in which numerous speakers took the stage to share their areas of expertise. 

The DICP-DENS collaborative application laboratory combines the extensive research capabilities of DICP, China’s leading and most influential catalysis research institute, with the advanced technology and outstanding research and development capabilities of DENSsolutions in the in-situ field. DENSsolutions will equip a complete Climate G+ system at the Xishan Lake Electron Microscope Center for in-situ atmosphere and heating TEM studies. The aim of this collaboration is to expand the frontiers of catalysis research and deepen our understanding of the energy conservation process. 

Opening ceremony

The event was hosted by Yan Jin, Deputy Director of the Energy Research Technology Platform of DICP. During the opening ceremony, both Yu Xiao, Director of Science and Technology Department of DICP, and Lijian Geng, Chairman and General Manager of ALTA Scientific delivered speeches.

Host Yan Jin opening the ceremony

Researcher Yu Xiao first welcomed the guests and expressed his enthusiasm about the collaboration between DICP and DENSsolutions for the realization of this application laboratory. He also relayed his hopes that this cooperation could develop in a long-term and stable manner, and that the results of this cooperation could be realized as soon as possible.

On behalf of ALTA Scientific and DENSsolutions, Lijian Geng then made an affectionate review depicting the lengthy history of the cooperation between the two parties, thanking those who made it possible. He expressed his gratitude to the many experts and professors who could not be present for the opening as well as to DENSsolutions CEO, Ben Bormans and CCO, Robert Endert for their continuous support.

Finally, DENSsolutions CTO Dr. Hugo Perez Garza delivered a digital speech, in which he expressed his excitement and gratitude on behalf of the DENSsolutions team for the trust that DICP has placed in us as a reliable partner. In his video, he signed the contract that formalizes the collaboration and expressed his confidence in a fruitful collaboration. This celebratory video is shown below.

Dr. Hugo Perez Garza delivering a digital celebratory speech 

Unveiling ceremony

After the opening event, researcher Yu Xiao, representing DICP, and Geng Lijian, representing DENSsolutions and ALTA Scientific, held an unveiling ceremony of the joint laboratory. This marked the official establishment of the DICP-DENS in-situ electron microscopy technology application laboratory.

Yu Xiao and Lijian Geng during the unveiling ceremony

Application seminar

In the second half of the conference, three speakers were invited to give talks during the application seminar. First, Professor Wei Liu gave a detailed introduction to the current configuration and construction of the Xishan Lake electron microscope platform of DICP and the team’s latest research results in the in-situ field. He also shared his thoughts and prospects on in-situ electron microscopy technology.

Next, DENSsolutions Senior Application Scientist Dr. Dan Zhou introduced in detail the leading advantages of the DENSsolutions Climate in-situ TEM gas and heating system and the latest research and development progress. She also shared some recent developments in application results.

Finally, Dr. Xi Liu from Shanghai Jiaotong University introduced his current application of in-situ aberration-corrected gas and heating TEM in heterogenous catalysis and the surface science of iron oxide reduction. He detailed the importance of the existence of in-situ TEM and explained that when combined with other characterization methods, in-situ TEM can have both super-high-resolution volume and surface characterization capabilities, thereby providing a basis for the establishment of new characterization methodology.

The three speeches during the application seminar deepened everyone’s understanding of in-situ technology and won a warm applause from the participants.

Wei Liu presenting the latest research results of the DICP research team in the in situ field

Dr. Dan Zhou giving a speech about the DENSsolutions Climate system

Xi Liu giving a speech about his current application of in situ TEM 

We are very excited to unravel the ample potential that this collaboration has in regards to advancing research in the field of catalysis and sustainable energy, and we hope to play a key role in the fight against climate change.

Check out ALTA Scientific’s article:

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Installing the first Stream system in Singapore at the Nanyang Technological University

Installing the first Stream system in Singapore at the Nanyang Technological University

Standing next to the recently installed Stream system: from left, Dr. Anastasia Shebanova, Dr. Martial Duchamp and Jeffrey George from the Nanyang Technological University

We are happy to announce that the first ever Stream system in Singapore has recently been installed! For this event we interviewed Dr. Martial Duchamp from the School of Materials Science and Engineering at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore. In this interview, we discussed NTU’s advanced microscopy facility and the various applications that LPEM users are interested in, as well as how our Stream system has greatly benefited their research.  

Can you tell me a bit about the microscopy facility at the Nanyang Technological University?

The Nanyang Technological University has a shared microscopy facility called FACTS (Facility for Analysis Characterization Testing & Simulation) that specializes in characterization in the field of electron microscopy and x-ray techniques. FACTS provides state-of-the-art electron microscopes and X-ray instruments as well as the expertise to operate them to all of NTU and beyond.

This shared facility was created around 20 years ago. Four years ago, we had an extension of the facility, and got two aberration-corrected transmission electron microscopes as well as a new building where these TEMs were installed. The first TEM is a JEOL JEM-ARM200F, and the second is the JEOL JEM-GrandARM that is both probe- and image-corrected. Moreover, we have some local technicians and engineers who take care of these microscopes and make sure the facility is running well.

What type of applications are Stream users at the facility interested in?

Users of the facility are interested in a wide range of applications. In regards to LPEM users, we are using the DENSsolutions Stream system to study the liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) aspect of biological systems. Specifically, we are interested in the process called coacervation, which involves starting with a mixed phase of polymer or proteins dispersed in a solvent, and by changing certain conditions like the pH, temperature or salt concentration you can go from this diluted phase to a solid phase via phase separation. We are particularly interested in phase separation in order to understand how we go from these diluted solutions of drugs or proteins to solid matter.

Aside from liquid TEM, I am also interested in using in situ and operando TEM to observe 2D materials and the evolution of these materials versus temperature, as well as solar cells and batteries.

Can you tell us who won the grant to acquire the Stream system?

Associate Professor Ali Miserez, the lead PI of the project titled “Phase Separation-Regulated Life, In and Outside of Cells”, was awarded the Ministry of Education (MOE) Tier 3 grant worth 8.5 million Singaporean dollars. This research programme aims to closely integrate the tools of cell biology and colloidal biochemistry with the framework developed in the materials science of polymer science, soft matter, and complex fluids. The goal is to unravel LLPS-mediated functional organization across multiple biological length scales. Part of this grant was used to acquire the Stream system.

This 5-year project started last summer, and we are just starting to employ new researchers. In fact, some students already started a couple months ago and we expect to have some more people joining.

What particular features of Stream attracted you to the system?

For our experiments, it was essential to find a way to control the flux of the liquid within the liquid cell in order to look at reactions or processes occurring on the location of the electron beam. This is something we were unable to do with previous generations of holders and chips. The DENSsolutions Stream system is the only system that allows you to completely control the liquid flux. This unique capability is what intrigued us most about the system.

Moreover, as a result of the Nano-cell’s special inlet-outlet design, we are also able to fully control the pressure and liquid thickness. Other features that we found very attractive include the control systems like the heating control unit and the pressure-based pump, which are considerably more elaborate compared to what we had in the past.

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

The assembly in regards to the closing of the cell is quite straightforward, and so far we have not had any leakage issues. Just by closing the cell, it becomes airtight, which is a great advantage of the system. Moreover, what I really appreciate about the system is the ability to have complete control over the flow of the liquid.

Dr. Mihaela Albu

Dr. Martial Duchamp
Assistant Professor | Nanyang Technological University

Dr. Martial Duchamp is an Assistant Professor in the school of Materials Science and Engineering at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. His research interests include the development of innovative operando TEM methods for application to solar cells, batteries and fuel cells devices, as well as obtaining a fundamental understanding of 2D materials to reveal their unprecedented electrical properties at local scale.

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Izasa Scientific and DENSsolutions announce new partnership

Izasa Scientific and DENSsolutions announce new partnership

DENSsolutions is proud to partner with Izasa Scientific to serve the Spanish and Portugese market. We have been active in Spain for a number of years and in those years we started to build a good relationship with the expert and passionate team of Izasa Scientific. Now we have recently officially signed our partnership, which we are sure will benefit the TEM community in Spain and Portugal. Offering them cutting-edge In Situ technology with the best possible local support.

“During conversations and cooperation with DENSsolutions on specific projects in Spain, we became convinced about the perfect alignment between our companies. The technology offered by DENSsolutions fits perfectly with our product portfolio linked to Electron Microscopy. Now, we can offer our clients a complete on-site solution by introducing the DENSsolutions systems that complement the most advanced Electron Microscopes and direct acquisition cameras on the market.
We are convinced that the association between our companies will end in a clear benefit for the scientific community by facilitating access to the most complete solution for “in-situ” Electron Microscopy on the market. We believe that DENSsolutions is without a doubt the best partner in this field.
This good alignment, even before formalizing this agreement, which we are pleased to announce, has led to joint efforts, such as the recent webinar, which attracted considerable interest from the scientific community, and which we invite you to watch on the Izasa Scientific website.”
Carlos Arribas, General Manager at Izasa Scientific
“In the last 5 years, DENSsolutions has had the opportunity to deliver in situ heating and biasing solutions to some of the leading TEM laboratories in Spain. We also saw more and more requests for quotations for our Climate and Stream systems so we decided to start looking for a distributor in Spain and Portugal. We already had some contact with Izasa Scientific in a few projects and we got very impressed with their installed base and more importantly with the commitment of the employees of Isaza towards their customers. The core values of DENSsolutions are: “we care”, “we innovate” and “we deliver” and this is exactly what we found with the people in Izasa.
So I fully agree with Carlos Arribas, the General Manager of Isaza Scientific, when he states that there is good alignment between the two companies. It was clearly shown indeed during our joint recent webinar.
DENSsolutions will keep pushing the technology envelope for total in situ solutions based on our state of the art Nano-Chip, Nano-Reactor and Nano-Cell MEMS based sample carriers.
In order to support our customers in every part of the world, we believe that a true partnership with our distributors is extremely important and after careful consideration we decided that this true partnership for Spain and Portugal can be realized with Isaza Scientific in the most beneficial way for our customers.
Isaza Scientific brings a lot of value for DENSsolutions as they have a very extensive installed base in Spain and Portugal. But more importantly the people in Isaza Scientific really have the knowledge and drive to understand our customers’ needs.
Last but not least: with the completion of the distribution agreement with Isaza Scientific we now “cover” the whole of Europe.”
Ben Bormans, CEO -DENSsolutions

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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.

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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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