A Robust Microfabricated Specimen Support with Integrated Capabilities for In-Situ Experimentation in the Transmission Electron Microscope
79454S Despite advances in modern electron optics, which have permitted observation with unprecedented resolutions, most materials science research involves the quantification of static properties of materials. This is mostly due to limitations in modern day equipment and the time and cost associated with modifying existing microscopes. Consequently a need exists to extend the current ability to observe dynamic processes at the atomic scale. The solution also should provide temperature and gas control, along with highly accurate orientation information, effectively transforming the Transmission Electron Microscope into a compact, self-contained materials laboratory. As an alternative to other engineering approaches, which attempt to incrementally improve the sample holders and stages themselves, this project will focus on integrating the functionality directly onto the specimen support. In particular, membranes will be micro-fabricated and will contain an integrated functionality that will control temperature and confine gases around the sample, forming a micro-scale environmental cell. The support material will allow the integration of alignment markers, which can be used to measure the direction and angle of tilt to a high degree of accuracy with respect to the membrane surface. Phase I will: (1) determine the Transmission Electron Microscopy resolution limits for samples placed on these films; (2) identify ex situ the design resulting in the highest temperature and most uniformly heated structure; and (3) determine the ideal materials design for localization of heat. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits as described by the awardee: A micro-fabricated approach to in situ TEM would provide a low-cost, integrated device that not only would allow precise control of a sampleÂ¿s environment, but also would be compatible with existing and future holders and stages. One area that would greatly benefit from this integrated capability is catalytic chemistry, which extends into commercial opportunities such as pharmacology, recycling, emissions control, and the treatment of hazardous materials.
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