Hands and eyes in the microcosmos

20th March 2020

IFE’s Central Analytical Research Facility (CARF) will support growing demand for advanced analytical technologies at QUT with the launch of our state-of-the-art Plasma Focused Ion Beam Scanning Electron Microscope (PFIB SEM). 

CARF Director Professor Stephen Blanksby said the launch of this new equipment strengthened QUT’s capabilities for analysis and manipulation of materials at nanometre scales and significantly augments the ranks of CARF's $40 million portfolio of cutting-edge instrumentation across microscopy, mass spectrometry, proteomics and genomics.  

“The state-of-the-art instrumentation and expertise within CARF underpin QUT's ambitions to accelerate its trajectory as a leading research-intensive university with a focus on strategic fundamental research," Professor Blanksby said. 

QUT Research Infrastructure Specialist Dr Annalena Wolff officially launched the new capability with Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Research and Innovation) Professor Christopher Barner-Kowollik by patterning a several hundred micrometre-large PFIB SEM into silicon within seconds. 

“This would have taken several hours with our old systems,” Dr Wolff explains. 

"This instrument gives us hands and eyes in the micro cosmos. It allows us to to see and analyse nanoscopic structures as well as to interact with matter on the nanometre scale. No other technology allows this level of precision while working with larger areas or volumes. This opens up the technology for more research fields including materials engineering, geology and biology and will facilitate technology-driven discovery in an extended application field." Dr Wolff said. 

The PFIB launch event was part of a larger CARF hosted workshop which invited SEM and PFIB users from QUT and our partners in research and industry to learn about the PFIB SEM technology. The workshop focused on the capabilities of the new technology as well as its applications. These include: 

  • Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) lamellae preparation
  • Large-area cross-sectioning
  • Nanofabrication
  • 3D tomography
  • Energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy
  • Electron backscatter diffraction hardware and software 

Experts in the field from within QUT, and from our external partners TESCAN and Nanospec, delivered three days of lecture tutorials as well live demonstrations of the system. The workshop was well attended, with participants travelling from across Australia and New Zealand. 

Learn more about CARF's capabilities here.

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