The Stuttgart Center for Electron Microscopy (StEM), led by Peter A. van Aken, adds exceptional strength to the analytical capabilities of the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research (MPI-FKF). StEM possesses outstanding expertise in the field of transmission electron microscopy (TEM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), focused ion-beam (FIB) applications, and methodology development. The StEM predominantly serves all institutional departments to provide researchers with ultrahigh-resolution electron-microscopy instrumentation at the forefront of technology. Thus, challenging characterization problems in materials can be solved at unprecedented spatial and energy resolution, and a research venue can be created, where researchers from various disciplines are able to interact and develop collaborations.
The overarching goal of StEM's research in supporting the institute's scientific mission is to provide accurate, precise and quantitative atomic-scale structure and composition data to inform the synthesis, structure and properties rational materials design cycle. This is accomplished through a combination of high precision, high throughput and big data acquisition from state-of-the-art electron microscopy reinforced by continuous computational modelling, data processing, and theory and methodology development. The StEM is constantly exploring and expanding new capabilities made possible by recent technological developments such as monochromators, aberration correctors, energy filters, and fast pixelated direct electron detectors to provide general development and application strategies for enhanced investigation capabilities of topical issues in materials physics and chemistry.
StEM currently has six TEMs, including two state-of-the-art aberration-corrected JEOL ARM200Fs and the unique Zeiss SESAM for high-resolution analytical and imaging work. The group also operates a SEM and a FIB/SEM as well as advanced sample preparation labs with facilities to expertly prepare a very wide variety of materials. Just recently, a large instrument proposal for the acquisition of a new atomic-resolution multi-dimensional TEM has been granted by the Max Planck Society.
StEM's research and services focus on the characterization of interfaces, functional complex oxide heterostructures, strained semiconductors, nanostructured thin films, nanoparticles and nanomaterials, as well as molecules on 2D materials, including their structural, magnetic, electronic, and optical properties at the atomic scale. StEM’s research mission is the advancement of the in-depth knowledge of atomic and electronic structure, and of the microscopic understanding of materials with respect to their functionality and structure–property relationships.