Together with ER-C-1 and ER-C-3, ER-C-2 and its partner laboratory, the Central Facility for Electron Microscopy (GFE) at RWTH Aachen University, jointly operate the Ernst Ruska-Centre for Microscopy and Spectroscopy with Electrons. The activities of ER-C-2 are focused on materials science applications with a special focus on materials for energy systems.
Representing one of the world's foremost establishments in the field of electron optics research, the ER-C features several unique tools for nanocharacterisation complemented by a strong expertise in the development of advanced methods. This expertise is also available to external researchers within the framework of the ER-C user services as a National User Centre.
The Institute Section ER-C-2, 'Materials Science and Technology', aims at providing an atomic level understanding of systems for energy harvesting, energy conversion and energy storage. Further fields of application will include lightweight materials for transportation, functional interfaces in composites and biomaterials as well as their technological counterparts.
Solutions to global challenges and industrial progress are connected closely to the availability of suitable materials and technologies. In many cases, materials are technology drivers and the steadily increasing requirement for applications provides a growing challenge for new materials development.
Progress in such areas can only be ensured if materials are developed rapidly and if sustainability is secured by means of an integral view of the life cycle of a material. This is only possible if materials development is accompanied by modelling and characterization activities that span the entire life cycle of a material from beginning to end.
On the experimental side, such an integral view, which is required to combine structural and electronic data with modelling at all relevant length scales, is not yet established. Our aim is thus to provide a coherent set of structural data which starts on the atomic level, provides insight in the microstructural features on several length scales and describes the phenomena which govern the reliability and failure of the corresponding systems and devices.
Prototypical examples of new technologies that require a highly precise examination of atomic structure are found in energy research. Improvements in energy efficiency, the realization of new energy conversion and storage technologies as well as membrane technologies for gas separation, all rely on engineering at the atomic level.