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Insights into the world of atoms: Electron microscopy

From nanotechnology to new materials, from energy technology to memory chips – in all fields the ability to innovate requires well-focused insights into the atomic world since the interaction of individual atoms determines the properties of materials and components. With the Ernst Ruska Centre (ER-C), Forschungszentrum Jülich and RWTH Aachen University operate a centre of excellence for atomic-resolution electron microscopy and spectroscopy on the highest international level.

ER-C develops scientific and technical infrastructure and methods for present and future materials research. At the same time, ER-C is the first national user centre for high-resolution electron microscopy. It provides researchers from science and industry with access to the most powerful electron microscopes currently available and guarantees competent assistance.

Under the umbrella of JARA, ER-C will in future make an electron microscope with a resolution of 50 picometres available to a broad user community. This instrument, known as PICO, allows us to look at individual atoms on the nanoscale. Atom spacings and atom displacements can be measured with a precision of one picometre. This enables atomic structures to be investigated for materials in energy research and microelectronics in even more detail. PICO is based on aberration-corrected electron optics, which was developed in the nineties with a major role being played by researchers from Jülich.