25. Oct. 2021
A new electron microscope will help scientists from Brno’s CEITEC BUT Institute. The microscope itself also comes from the Moravian metropolis. The device is being lent by Thermo Fisher Scientific, the largest local manufacturer of such advanced scientific equipment.
Brno is often referred to as the capital of electron microscopy. Three local companies together produce roughly one third of global production. The city is also home to a number of research institutions working with electron microscopes. Cooperation between the private and the academic sector is nothing new in electron microscopy, as evidenced by the latest technological addition at CEITEC BUT – an electron microscope in the Dual Beam category lent to the scientific centre by the company Thermo Fisher.
"It’s a device which combines an electron and ion beam. This particular electron microscope is especially useful for so-called in-situ electron microscopy, during which we observe directly in the microscope the reaction of a sample to a certain stimulus, like heat, gas flow, or an external electrical and magnetic field, for example," explains Tomáš Vystavěl, Research and Development Manager at Thermo Fisher. ‘Thanks to this technique, scientists are able to observe these reactions in real time and perform experiments, which is of great importance, for example, in the development of batteries for the automotive industry or in the development of catalytic processes in the pharmaceutical industry,’ Vystavěl adds.
The microscope allows various gases to be supplied directly into the chamber and, simultaneously, detects electrons and ions under extreme conditions that are not achievable in a conventional electron microscope. ‘This electron microscope for in-situ microscopy will significantly expand the possibilities of our workplace. We deal with several areas where the use of real-time microscopy will allow for the acquisition of unique data – these include reactions on the surfaces of the model catalysts used, for example, in automobiles, or the visualisation of the formation of new materials by gas phase deposition techniques, which is, for instance, how graphene is prepared,’says doc. Miroslav Kolíbal from CEITEC BUT.
The device will also play an important role in teaching and educating future scientists and technicians. "Thermo Fisher collaborates with Masaryk University and the Brno University of Technology, where our colleagues regularly teach subjects in the field of electron microscopy," says Tomáš Vystavěl. "Thanks to its lavish equipment and multiplicity of applications, it will be possible to use the microscope both to demonstrate the functions and possibilities of the electron microscope in students’ elementary courses at the Institute of Physical Engineering, and in the advanced projects of postgraduate students at CEITEC and FSI BUT, which may include experiments as well as the development of new hardware components," Miroslav Kolíbal adds.
The lending of this electron microscope is further proof of Brno’s functioning ecosystem, comprising local enterprises and scientific institutions. According to data from the South Moravian Innovation Centre – JIC – there are approximately 2,400 people in the region engaged in the development and production of measuring, imaging, and analytical devices, with almost a thousand of them in research and development alone. Universities and research centres often partner industry, helping companies perfect their products. "Thermo Fisher and CEITEC BUT mainly collaborate in the field of contract research. Together, we also participate in the program of National Competence Centres, in which our teams collaborate on sub-projects," Tomáš Vystavěl concludes.
Author: Jakub Kovářů