Liquid and Full Pressure Range Gas Environmental TEM Specimen Holders for High-Resolution Elemental Analysis

Period of Performance: 01/01/2013 - 12/31/2013


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Hummingbird Precision Machine Co, Dba Hummingbird
2610 Willamette Drive NE, Suite A
Lacey, WA 98516
Principal Investigator
Firm POC


The inability to dynamically image solid-state materials at atomic resolutions and perform spectroscopy at the same time in changing liquid and gas environments is a significant impediment to the advance of multiple areas of science. Recently Hummingbird Scientific has developed commercially viable in-situ continuous flow liquid and atmospheric pressure gas transmission electron microscope (TEM) sample holders for observations of interactions of materials in fluid environments. These holders have already opened up new avenues of research in material reactions through real time observation and imaging of nano-scale material interactions. However, these systems do not allow the full potential of the TEM to be used, as they currently do not allow routine spectroscopic analysis to occur in the TEM. The electron cross-section of the liquid/gas cell is limiting the use of electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS) and energy filtered TEM (EFTEM) and the geometric constraints on being able to seal the liquid and gas cells have also inhibited the use of energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDS). This project will fully develop and bring to market new liquid and gas cell in-situ TEM holders that are specifically designed to allow spectroscopic analysis (EELS, EFTEM, and EDS) to occur while imaging materials in fluid environments at high resolution. In Phase I we have successfully built and tested prototypes of these systems. This will be a crucial technique in opening up the possibilities of in-situ fluidic research inside the TEM. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: The broader impact/commercial potential of this project will be the availability of a characterization technique that can image solid/liquid and solid/gas interfaces up to atomic resolutions while at the same time performing spectroscopic elemental analysis. This technique has a broad range of impact over several scientific and engineering fields. It will allow biological structures to be imaged at nanometer resolutions in the native environment and will provide new insight on the structure-function relation in biological systems. In materials science and chemistry, it will provide new insight into the growth and synthesis of nano-structures, which are important for future generations of electronic devices. Finally, it will create insights for catalysis research under relevant environmental conditions, as well as offer a new understanding of the fundamental processes in corrosion.