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by Sofia Villegas
02 April 2024
Scottish University to create ‘world-leading’ microscope

New microscope to provide unprecedented spacial resolution | Alamy

Scottish University to create ‘world-leading’ microscope

The University of Glasgow has received a £4.9m grant to create a “world-leading” microscopy facility.

Awarded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council – part of funding body UK Research and Innovation – the facility will allow researchers to develop enhanced electron microscopy techniques.

Professor Stephen McVitie, principal investigator for the project, said: "Glasgow has been international centre for electron microscopy for more than 40 years and this new investment will now enable us to study magnetic materials on the atomic scale. This is critical because we collaborate with manufacturers to develop data storage devices using magnets that are only a few atoms in size."

Set to open in 2026, the site, named MagTEM2, will allow for a better spatial resolution for magnetic materials down to the level of individual atoms.

Spatial resolution is the resolving power to distinguish between closely spaced objects.

To date, such resolution has been limited by the need to immerse samples in the strong magnetic fields required to focus electron beams.

Co-investigator Professor Donald MacLaren said: "Functional materials like batteries, semiconductors and sensor technologies underpin the modern world, but can be difficult to study with enough resolution in time, energy and space to fully optimise their performance.”

This unprecedented resolution will help the university lead the development of nano and quantum technologies, MacLaren claims.

The new microscope will also incorporate the latest improvements in spectroscopy to help researchers study materials' chemistry and electronic properties.

Spectroscopy is the study of the absorption and emission of light and other radiation by matter.

A key advance will incorporate electron detectors developed by University of Glasgow researchers in partnership with CERN - the European Organization for Nuclear Research. Scientists believe these detectors would enable record-breaking sensitivity and speed in detecting the electrons used for imaging samples in the microscope.

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