Midterm evaluation of UnivSEM project

DSCN1500Project midterm evaluation meeting was held during 12th and 13th November 2013 in Thun, Switzerland, with presence of EC Project Officer and assigned Project Technical Advisor.

During the first 18 months of the project the necessary design of a vacuum chamber was performed, considering the complexity of the final tool. Further adaptations of existing SEM chambers were necessary for seamless multi-modal microscopy, therefore a retractable slide and a new XYZ stage were also designed and manufactured. In parallel, significant improvements of individual techniques such as SEM (immersion optics resolution improvement from 3.5 nm to 1.6 nm at 1keV), TOF-SIMS (signal enhancement factor of 75 due to the new ion optics and oxygen flooding) or SPM were achieved (scanning area in vacuum of 50×50 µm² from previous 10×10 µm²).

The first integration of SEM and vacuum-operated CRM (Confocal Raman Microscopy) shows unprecedented results of the same sample spot image, with optical resolution of 360 nm, which is also well beyond the foreseen result (500 nm). This part of the tool is now ready to perform several characterization tests, which will lead to optimization of the settings. Consequently, hardware and software integration of all techniques should provide the universal nano-analytical tool, for multipurpose use.

The expected socio-economic impact of the resulting tool is very high due to having one single tool allowing researchers and quality control employees capabilities, which were recently possible only by several devices. This will be particularly appreciated for forensic, geological and biological applications, but also in developing markets like organic or hybrid (opto-) electronics (e.g. OLEDs, OPVs)