Understanding Processes Using Operando Nanoscopy (UPON).

a STW perspective program with 8 projects starting in 2015:

The performance of materials like high-strength alloys, nanomaterials, hybrid materials and biological “systems” is ruled by processes that take place at the nanoscale. With recent technological advances, it is now common practice to investigate materials and biological systems at the nanoscale in order to reveal their fundamental properties. This is reflected in the wide application of electron microscopy (EM) in both academic and industrial Research.

The next frontier in material and life sciences is the nanoscale investigation of these systems during exposure to relevant and realistic stimuli or environments, such as gases (oxidation/reduction), liquids, heating or electrical fields: operando nanoscopy (ON). The realization of a multipurpose, user-friendly ON platform opens up a wide range of new experiments in various scientific disciplines, wherever one wants to determine the morphological and compositional evolution in relation to changing properties or vice versa. Building on our expertise on in-situ heating and gas-holders for TEM, and on fabricating components based on MicroElectronic Machined Systems (MEMS) like a nanoreactor, we will develop new type of nanoreactors for both scanning-ON and transmission-ON experiments in a gas or liquid environment with at a controllable temperature and/or with application of electric fields. In addition, the use of graphene as ultrathin membrane for gas and liquid nanoreactors will be developed. The integrated ON platform will be specifically developed as multipurpose tool to be used in multiple research fields. ON is widely anticipated as the next generation of microscopy, giving access to a wealth of new information for both scientists and industrial R&D. It addresses major questions in society (such as the effects of drugs on a cellular level, nanoparticle air pollution) and major challenges in industry (such as “greener” materials, battery materials, sustainable coating materials, prevention of corrosion, and nanoelectronics).

UPON is organized in two research lines: Research line A concerns technological innovations towards reliable and user-friendly ON; research line B paves the way for applying ON to a wide range of scientific disciplines by tackling challenging research questions in selected disciplines. With the application possibilities of ON being very wide, we selected 4 typical topics, which can be considered as model systems. Each of the projects aims to bring the technological innovation as a whole to a level where commercial parties can take over to bring it to the market, focusing on reliability and safety.

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