New facility to focus on materials

August 07, 2014
Source: ASM International

Johnson Matthey, Oxford University, and Diamond Light Source, all in the UK, announced the creation of a state-of-the-art materials characterization facility at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus. This world class site is close to both Oxford University and Johnson Matthey's Sonning Common Research laboratories and is home to Diamond, the UK's synchrotron science facility, where 24 experimental stations (beamlines) are currently operating with funding in place to increase this number to 33 by 2018.

As part of Diamond's pioneering hard x-ray nanoprobe beamline (I14) and electron microscopy center, Johnson Matthey and Oxford University will each contribute cutting-edge microscopes from JEOL to support research in the physical sciences. These microscopes will complement two other advanced electron microscopes that will also be built at the new center as part of a National Facility for Cryo-Electron Microscopy. Overall, the new center will offer unrivalled facilities for research across the biological and physical sciences.

The hard x-ray nanoprobe will take structural analysis with detailed element mapping to the highest spatial x-ray resolution available anywhere in the world. Oxford University will bring a unique JEOL 300kV electron microscope dedicated to atomic scale imaging at world-leading resolution and Johnson Matthey will install a world-leading JEOL double-EDX and EELS capable microscope dedicated to chemical analysis with atomic scale resolution. Collaborations between Johnson Matthey, Oxford University, and Diamond's I14 beamline will facilitate the interchange of samples between these systems and enable analyses at near-duty catalytic conditions to observe the influence of chemical and thermal challenges on material structure.

The I14 hard X-ray nanoprobe beamline will offer experimental facilities that are world leading. It will be the third of four beamlines at Diamond that need to extend beyond the iconic silver doughnut shaped building due to the type of experiments it will enable scientists to carry out.  To maximize the distance from the focusing optic to the sample, I14 will extend beyond the main building to a distance of approximately 175 m. The beamline will provide a state of the art facility in which a focused x-ray spot is positioned or scanned over a sample.

Samples under investigation will include a wide range of organic and inorganic materials. The potential applications are extremely varied and include materials science, in areas such as new polymers, magnetic and nanostructured materials. Earth and environmental science and geochemistry, with potential research topics including aerosols, minerals, sediments, soils and bio-remediation. The beamline and associated microscopy facilities will also be able to investigate new energy sources and area of biological, biotechnological and biomedical science such as new biomaterials and the elemental imaging of cells.

The facility will have the potential to investigate samples under both static or real (eg wet, heated, in situ strain) conditions. The aim being to allow scientists to obtain both structural and chemically-specific information.

The beamline, which will come online in Spring 2017, will be a dedicated facility for micro-nano small angle x-ray scattering (SAXS) and nanoscale microscopy. It will serve two end-stations. One will be a nanoprobe for which the design priority will be to achieve the smallest possible focus, with a development goal of 10 nm and initial aim of 30 nm. The optical design will be optimized for scanning x-ray fluorescence, x-ray spectroscopy and diffraction. The other station will be optimized to carry out small and wide angle x-ray scattering studies as well as scanning fluorescence mapping with a variable focus beam in the range 5µm – 100 nm.

Complementing the beamline information, the electron microscopes, through EDX, EELS, atomic scale imaging and electron diffraction, show the identity, ordering and chemical state of atoms in the sample. The potential of today's advanced materials depends upon the structures and properties that arise from collections of atoms interacting in their local environment. In automotive emissions control catalysts, fuel cells, chemical process technology and battery materials the collections of atoms are the catalytically active sites and characterizing those leads to better understanding and their improved design.

At greater length scales, framework materials such as graphene, zeolites or complex ceramics provide controlled transmission of active effects from clusters of atoms to greater length scale properties. The expertise and equipment that Johnson Matthey, Oxford and Diamond bring together will provide the nucleus for the community to come together and address important future challenges.

Image caption — Yasuo Takemitsu, JEOL UK Ltd., Julia Parker, Diamond beamline scientist (I14), Trevor Rayment, Diamond's Physical Sciences Director, Paul Collier, Johnson Matthey Research Fellow, Dogan Ozkaya, Johnson Matthey, Peter Ash, Technology Manager: Advanced Characterisation, Johnson Matthey Technology Centre, Andrew Harrison, CEO of Diamond Light Source, Elizabeth Rowsell, Director, Johnson Matthey Technology Centre, Sarah Karimi, JEOL UK Ltd., Andrew Richards, Diamond's Legal Manager, Elizabeth Shotton Diamond's Head of Industrial Liaison, Paul Barrett, Diamond's Commercial Manager. Courtesy of Diamond Light Source.

Subject Classifications

Materials Testing and Evaluation