The NCHREM is capable of investigating the structure of materials on an atomic scale with an ultimate resolution of 0.12 nm (information limit). The chemical composition on a local scale (0.3 nm) can also be studied by the use of energy dispersive X-ray analysis. In addition, the unique combination of the atomic structure, the chemical composition, and the electronic structure on a local scale (0.2 nm, see “facilities”) is available for service provision by the implementation of EELS and energy filtered imaging.
The facilities of the NCHREM are open to all research institutes in the Netherlands and abroad. At the moment, investigators from universities pay a fee depending on the level of collaboration and the microscope used, to cover part of the high costs involved in the maintenance of the machines and the necessary infrastructure. Industry can also make use of the facilities of the Centre, but pay more for use of the microscope and personnel. In principle, all kinds of materials problems may be subject to investigation. If a subject is too time consuming to study as a service job, the staff of the Centre may suggest the asking party to either learn to operate the microscope or do a joint research project, which could involve the organisation of a separate project with an extra post-doc (possibly part time) or PhD student for HREM. A post-doc working part time on a single project is also possible. The education of a researcher from the asking party can be received at the NCHREM.
Access to the NCHREM is organised in such a way that any barriers to access are as small as possible. A first contact is usually made by phone or e-mail, and subsequently an informal meeting is arranged to discuss the suitability of TEM to contribute to the investigation. Often, advanced PhD students are capable of handling this. However, in many cases the project leader will be asked to join this meeting. After this meeting, it normally will take 2 to 8 weeks before the first results are available.
Examples of materials studied in the past for service provision are: solar cell materials on various substrates, thin films for X-ray mirrors, thin films with certain magnetic properties, superconducting oxides, Al alloys for automotive industry, Li-ion battery materials, zeolites, pigments, polymers, coatings for wear resistance, semiconducting devices, nanofabrication of various structures in metals, and many more.
For detailed information on the available instrumentation see
Many of the listed facilities are the result of projects supported by FOM, SON and others.