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Microscope delivers world-class imaging

14 March 2022

A state-of-the-art electron microscope with the power to image the atom has arrived at Cardiff University’s Translational Research Hub (TRH).

The instrument, known as an Aberration Corrected Scanning Transmission Electron Microscope or AC-STEM, is the first in Wales – and one of only a handful in the UK.

Supplied by specialists Thermo Fisher Scientific Ltd, the Spectra 200 microscope will be housed in a new £9M Cardiff Catalysis Institute Electron Microscopy Facility, adjacent to the TRH, where researchers will collaborate with industry to develop advanced technologies.

The microscope will allow scientists from Cardiff Catalysis Institute (CCI) and the Institute for Compound Semiconductors (ICS) to build on their international reputations for the development of novel catalysts and microchip devices.


Professor Rudolf Allemann, Pro Vice-Chancellor, International and Student Recruitment and Head of the College of Physical Sciences and Engineering, welcomed the delivery.

“The AC-STEM is the jewel in the crown of our new microscopy unit, which will also re-house our existing CCI electron microscopes all under one roof in a purpose-built microscopy facility designed to be ultra-quiet, electromagnetically shielded and vibration free.

“The space will be shared with Cardiff’s outstanding surface science facility which will be home to the UK’s first Photo-induced Force Microscope (PiFM) for nanoscale topography and vibrational spectroscopy, together with a new Tip Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (TERS), and Cardiff’s already renowned X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) capability.

“The co-location of these state-of the art instruments, techniques and expertise will provide a unique centre for materials imaging and spectroscopic analysis.”

Thermo Fisher Scientific is the world leader in serving science, with annual revenue of approximately $40 billion. The company’s mission is to enable our customers to make the world healthier, cleaner and safer.

Robbie O’Connell, Sales Account Manager, Thermo Fisher Scientific, said: "We are delighted to be working with Cardiff University to supply our Aberration Corrected Scanning Transmission Electron Microscope (AC-STEM). The state-of-the-art instrument will allow researchers across the University’s new translational Research Hub (TRH) to build on their world-renowned reputation for novel catalyst development."

The acquisition of the microscope has been made possible thanks to investment from the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO), HEFCW and The Wolfson Foundation.

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