FEI joins with FOM to develop single-atom imaging

10 January 2007

FEI Company, a leading developer of electron  microscopes, and the Netherlands-based Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM), have announced a joint nanotechnology research project to develop a new generation of microscopes.

The goal of the project is to advance electron microscopes and focused ion beam systems (FIBs) so that the structure of materials can be made visible and processed at the single-atom scale.

The project forms part of FOM's mission to link leading academic and industrial physical research centres in Industrial Partnership Programs (IPPs) to realize specific commercial goals.

The research program will have a two-fold focus. The first is to advance and fully harness the potential that lies in existing electron microscopes and ion beam systems for a full range of applications in physics and biology. The second focus of the program will include researching the interaction between electron beams, ion beams, laser light and matter. This will result in much-needed fundamental innovations for future generations of microscopes and focused ion beam systems.

“Material processing at the atomic level is a primary emphasis at FEI and an area to which we devote extensive research,” explains Frank de Jong, FEI Company's director of research and technology. “However, beyond making structures visible, we need to make the transition from static to moving images. Five years from now, we want to be able not only to change an atomic structure but also to see it happening. This will require new breakthroughs in both knowledge and technology and the range of skills that this effort requires is vast. This cooperative effort with academic partners will bring the best resources available to the program.”

High expectations are currently being placed on nanotechnology discovery and development in terms of providing innovative solutions to a range of social challenges such as clean and renewable energy sources, water management, healthcare and food supply. Continued breakthroughs in research and development need to be achieved in both science and industry if nanotechnology is to meet these expectations.

FOM and FEI believe that the results of the program will benefit a wide range of industries including microelectronics, chemistry and catalysis, biosciences and pharmaceuticals, and the automotive industry.

The FOM-FEI research program has a five-year term and a total budget of  2.7 million. As well as providing financial input, FEI Company will also make a highly advanced focused ion beam (FIB) system available to project researchers.

The program will run at TU Delft, TU Eindhoven, the FOM Institute AMOLF and FEI laboratories in the Netherlands and the United States. 

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