Structural characterization to link the relations between processing, structure and properties of materials is at the core of modern materials science. Insights into the microstructure and finest details in materials, such as atomic scale defects and interfaces, is of pivot importance to engineer and tailor the functionality of advanced materials.
Our institute is founded on the backbone of advanced electron microscopy as well as optical and X-ray microscopy/tomography. In our research we develop and apply novel microscopy techniques which enable us to reveal the local structure and chemistry of materials and their microscopic defects, study microscopic processes during materials synthesis and transformation, and directly measure materials properties on the microscopic scale. Our institute runs the state-of-the-art microscopy facility of the Center for Nanoanalysis and Electron Microscopy (CENEM), which includes a double-corrected transmission electron microscope (TEM), a highly versatile focused ion beam scanning electron microscope (FIB-SEM) and a cutting-edge X-ray microscope (XRM/NanoCT) with the highest resolution of lab-based instruments achieved so far. In our research we use a broad spectrum of highly flexible sample holders and manipulation devices suitable to carry out in situ experiments with various stimuli (heat, electric field, mechanical force,…), and we have established and are continuously developing new preparation methods and routines.
Our studies cover a wide spectrum of materials spanning from inorganic to organic, from metals to semiconductors. The goal of our work is to achieve a quantitative understanding of the correlation between fabrication and materials structure on the one hand and between materials structure and materials properties on the other hand. Apart from studying materials fabricated in our own laboratories (e.g. thin films and nanostructures) we closely work together with other research groups of the Department and related fields in the university, including Chemistry, Physics and Chemical Engineering.