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University of Illinois at Chicago
Energy-Related Research Enabled with New Atomic Resolution S/TEM

The University of Illinois at Chicago just became an epicenter for atomic resolution research with the installation of its new aberration-corrected S/TEM, the ARM200F with cold field emission gun. The ability to see atomic structures at this resolution will enhance energy-related research at the University, where the research team investigates catalysts for alternative fuel production, and alternative energy using thin film solar cell materials, oxide thin films, thermoelectric oxides, ceramics, nanotubes, and semiconductor thin films.

Dr. Robert Klie, associate professor of physics, was awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to purchase the S/TEM as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Additionally, Dr. Klie and Dr. Randall Meyer, associate professor of chemical engineering, received a grant from the NSF to examine how individual atoms and atom clusters of the rare metal rhodium, manganese and vanadium interact at the atomic level to facilitate chemical reactions under various gas pressures and temperature conditions.

The research team is especially keen on making a catalyst that could reduce the costs involved in ethanol production, generate less waste, and use non-food biomass such as switchgrass -- rather than corn kernels -- as the source material.

The ARM200F arrived at UIC in July, and is housed in a refurbished room which previously was used for a JEOL JEM-2010F. The room has since been outfitted for temperature and airflow control with the JEOL Hydro Panel system.

The installation process and milestones have been posted on the University's Research Resources Center web page. The UIC-RRC operates the TEM, which is available for use for an hourly user charge. “Currently, we have over 15 internal user groups who have expressed strong interest in using the new instrument, as well as outside industrial and academic users,” said Dr. Klie.