Simon Fraser University’s multi-million-dollar Centre for Soft Materials, that opened earlier this year, says it now has the most advanced suite of microscopes in Western Canada with the recent installation of a suite of high-end electron microscopes.
The systems installed include the Tecnai Osiris™ transmission electron microscope (TEM) and Helios™ DualBeam™ (scanning electron microscope/focused ion beam). These systems join several other FEI microscopes in the 4D LABS facility in Vancouver, where the new centre is housed.
“To accommodate the unique needs of soft materials processing and characterization, SFU’s 4D LABS has partnered with Canada’s Western Economic Diversification, the Automotive Fuel Cell Cooperation, Systems for Research and FEI to create the Centre for Soft Materials,” said Byron Gates, associate professor and Canada research chair in surface chemistry, Department of Chemistry at SFU. “We are implementing specialized microscope equipment and methods optimized for ‘soft’ materials that are easily damaged by high-energy particle beam analytical techniques. Materials in this vital class range from simple polymers and composites to cells and tissues. By improving our understanding of them we will be better able to design new materials and products for applications that include medicine, clean energy, information technology and many more.”
The Centre’s Helios DualBeam system offers cryogenic transfer and analysis capabilities. Its focused ion beam (FIB) can slice into the soft material with minimal damage and its SEM provides high-resolution images of the revealed cross-sectional surface for three-dimensional (3D) analysis. The Osiris TEM provides a highly efficient way to analyze samples that are sensitive to particle beams by using fast, high-resolution imaging and optimized compositional analysis using a unique and patented X-ray detection system. Cryogenic holders can also be used in the Osiris for inspection of samples while cooled. This combination of low-dose, fast, high-resolution imaging; 3D reconstruction; and elemental analysis provide a unique set of capabilities for soft material analysis.