Inauguration of Germany’s highest resolution lab-based X-ray microscope at CENEM

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Dr. Michael Royeck (DFG), Prof. Erdmann Spiecker (CENEM), Prof. Joachim Hornegger (FAU President), Prof. Philip Withers (University Manchester) and Dr. Burkhard Jahnen (DFG) (from left) in front of the new X-ray microscopy Xradia Ultra 810.

Erlangen 10.11.2017 – The inauguration of the Zeiss Xradia Ultra 810, Germany’s highest resolution lab-based X-ray microscope / nano-CT, took place in the Institute of Micro- and Nanostructure Research (IMN) and Center for Nanoanalysis and Electron Microscopy (CENEM). The inauguration started with greetings and lectures in the morning in the Hans-Georg-Waeber lecture hall of the Fraunhofer IISB and ended in the afternoon with lab tours to the Xradia Ultra and the state-of-the-art electron microscopes at CENEM.

“This outstanding microscope enables 3D imaging of objects in the size range of a human hair and below with amazing resolution of 50 nm. It fills the final gap in the chain of scale-bridging tomography techniques at CENEM and will further boost cutting-edge materials research at FAU Erlangen” said Prof. Dr. Erdmann Spiecker, the head of IMN and CENEM, in his welcome address. He acknowledged the German Research Foundation (DFG) for opening this special call in mid-2015 and finally granted the 3 Million Euro project of FAU Erlangen. “When I saw this call, I immediately thought that it perfectly fits into FAU’s materials research focus and the concept of CENEM.”

In his greeting speech, the president of FAU, Prof. Dr. Joachim Hornegger, proudly mentioned that FAU has been listed top six in the most innovative universities in Europe recently. He further emphasized the significant role state-of-the-art instruments have played in elevating the level of the innovativeness, cultivating of top graduates as field leading players, boosting of cutting-edge research in the university. “With the implementation of the new instrument, we are excited to see more and more top-level research in the coming years”, said the present.

Dr. Michael Royeck, the representative of DFG, brought congratulation to the inauguration of the nano-CT lab. He pointed to the success story of CENEM and emphasized the importance of core facilities at universities: “State-of-the-art instruments are the key to cutting-edge research and the competitiveness of our country. Through core facilities, we have to make these expensive machines accessible to experts in universities, which are usually not able to afford them.”

Afterward, Prof. Dr. Philip Withers from the University of Manchester, a world-renowned expert in 3D analysis of materials using various tomography techniques, delivered an inspiring lecture with the title “Correlative tomography – completing the picture”. He first congratulated the acquisition of the beautiful instrument and appreciated the inauguration: “I think the inauguration is such a nice ceremony that allows colleagues to get to know the official opening of the lab, and will definitely encourage collaboration.” In his lecture, he emphasized the importance of studying materials with complementary techniques addressing multiple length scales, multiple time scales and multiple facets of the material. “If you are a hammer, everything you see is a six-inch nail”. This would be the way researchers see the world if they only concentrate on one single technique. Rather Prof. Withers encouraged to collaborate intensively with colleagues bringing together different techniques in order to get the full picture. As an enthusiastic practitioner to bring science to the public, his lecture excited lots of resonance among the audience.

Finally, Prof. Spiecker introduced the new X-ray microscope and the research goals of the Erlangen project that is now ready to start. He also showed exciting results that were already obtained in collaboration with Zeiss company before the instrument was installed in Erlangen. For instance, the 3D structure of natural photonic crystals that occur on the scales of butterfly wings could be revealed in detail providing important insight into the formation mechanism of these beautiful structures (see here). Moreover, the 3D network structure of nanoporous metal foams have been studied in combination with compression tests allowing to elucidate the importance of network topology for the mechanical properties of these nanoscaled foams.