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One-of-a-kind instrument destined for nanotechnology facility


Edmonton, AB – The National Institute for Nanotechnology (NINT) of the National Research Council (NRC) says it will soon be home to a one-of-a-kind transmission electron microscope (TEM).

The institute says it recently contracted for a Hitachi HF 3300 TEM equipped with a cold field emission gun. The first instrument of its kind in the world, this microscope will be equipped with a unique combination of high-level electron interferometry (electron holography) and electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS). It will assist researchers by allowing them to characterize individual nano-structures, such as nanotubes, by taking quantitative measurements of samples at an atomic resolution (better than two-tenths of a nanometre). This will allow researchers to help validate their theories and models by actually imaging and measuring the individual structures and chemical bonds within them.

“Canada’s role in the emerging field of nanotechnology depends on us equipping our researchers with the tools they need. This machine will put us in very small group of countries who have made such a substantial investment, “says Michael Raymont, acting NRC President. “I expect the equipment and facilities at the National Institute for Nanotechnology to attract researchers from all over the world.”

The institute has also purchased a second transmission electron microscope which it says will also be the only one of its kind in Canada – a JEOL 2200 FS. This machine will mainly be used for three-dimensional imaging of soft materials in research areas such as proteins, membranes, sub-cellular structures and tar sands extracts.

Scheduled to be installed early in 2006, these microscopes will be part of a suite of chemical and structural analysis equipment at NINT. Other instruments include a scanning tunneling microscope, two scanning electron microscopes and several atomic force microscopes. The total budget for equipping the institute is more than $40 million; the cost of these two TEM is $7 million.