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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S021531/1
Title: Correlative Mapping of Crystal Orientation and Chemistry at the Nanoscale
Principal Investigator: Haigh, Dr SJ
Other Investigators:
Burke, Professor M Eggeman, Dr AS Prangnell, Professor P
Flavell, Professor WR
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Materials
Organisation: University of Manchester, The
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 April 2019 Ends: 31 March 2021 Value (£): 1,385,872
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Materials Characterisation
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
22 Nov 2018 EPSRC Strategic Equipment Interview Panel November 2018 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Advanced materials lie at the heart of a huge number of key modern technologies, from aerospace and automotive industries, to semiconductors through to surgical implants. Central to the study of materials is the ability to analyse the structure of materials from the atomic scale, up through the microscopic structure and on to the size of individual components and devices. Only by understanding this hierarchy of structure can the properties and performance of devices and components be optimised.

Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) is a key technique for characterising the local structure and chemistry of a wide range of materials. It is possible to gain information about the arrangement of atoms through imaging and electron diffraction patterns, and also to study composition via complementary spectroscopic measurements. One of the greatest strengths of the TEM is the ability to study tiny volumes of material, and hence to uncover information about the local defects and interfaces which often control the macroscopic properties of modern devices and materials.

In this proposal we aim to install a state-of-the-art TEM with a dedicated electron diffraction camera that enable ultra-fast and large area analysis of the crystal structure, orientation and strain in engineering materials, alloys, ceramics and coatings. Furthermore, the high sensitivity of the new detector will also allow the same range of experiments using low electron doses. Excitingly this will open up new opportunities to study the atomic arrangement and microstructure of materials that are traditionally not suited to electron microscopy methods. These include organic materials (such as polymers, composites and pharmaceuticals) and also the variety of novel hybrid organic-inorganic materials that are showing great potential for technologies such as solar cells, gas storage and targeted catalysis. This new advance is particularly important as such organic and hybrid materials are difficult to characterise using traditional X-ray diffraction methods and the microstructure of ordered and disordered domains, defects and interfaces is often poorly understood for these materials. Only by understanding such structural complexity can we hope to control and harness their amazing breadth of properties.

Combined with this diffraction capability will be high efficiency X-ray spectroscopy compositional analysis allowing the simultaneous analysis of the local atomic structure and chemistry of samples. Such correlative experiments will allow a better understanding of the macroscopic behaviour of materials and device, for example understanding how trace impurities affects the way cracks extend through barrier coatings or the structure changes that occur when hybrid framework materials absorb gas molecules. This will include the incorporation of advanced data science methods (often referred to as big-data approaches) to help process and understand the huge quantities of data that such a system can generate. In this way it should be possible to unlock secrets of material structure that would be impossible to ascertain by the isolated study of either crystal structure or composition.

This new analytical power will be used in conjunction with a range of in-situ experimental methods that will allow materials and devices to be subjected to conditions such as temperature, fields, stress or chemical attack during the studies. By mimicking realistic operating conditions the true behaviour of materials can be explored and optimised for the benefit of all.

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Organisation Website: http://www.man.ac.uk