A Hitachi SU-70 field emission SEM was installed in the CSL in February. Within two days of commissioning, the instrument saw its first use in cutting edge research.
The new ultra high resolution scanning electron microscope (SEM) features a Schottky field emission gun which is the first of its kind in the state. It will enable researchers to look at surface features and chemical composition of solid biological, geological and synthetic specimens in much greater detail than possible before at UTAS.
Two days after installation, Dr Dario Arrua, a postdoctoral fellow with Prof Emily Hilder in the Australian Centre for Research on Separation Science (ACROSS), together with CSL research fellow Dr Karsten Goemann, investigated the outcome of his experiments to load polymer networks with functionalised nanoparticles. This work is part of an ARC funded project focused on the development of new nanostructured polymers for separation science.
The image shows a colour enhanced electron micrograph of the nanoparticle-loaded polymer at a magnification of 22,000 times. One segment in the scale bar equals 200 nanometers. The image clearly resolves individual nanoparticles in the clusters (orange) attached to the smooth polymer network (purple). Even more surface detail only a few nanometers in size is visible. As a comparison, a human hair has a diameter between 20,000 and 180,000 nanometers.
Learning how to optimise specimen preparation and set up of the microscope for different types of specimens can take months. So both Dario and Karsten were very happy with the outcome of the first session.
The purchase of the instrument was made possible through a Linkage Infrastructure and Equipment grant from the Australian Research Council won by a multidisciplinary team of UTAS researchers.