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Enabling Science and Technology through European Electron Microscopy

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ESTEEM3 (Enabling Science and Technology through European Electron Microscopy)

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2020-06-30

ESTEEM3 – Enabling Science and Technology through European Electron Microscopy – is a project for electron microscopy, which aims at providing access to the leading European state-of-the-art electron microscopy research infrastructures, facilitating and extending transnational access services of the most powerful atomic scale characterization techniques in advanced electron microscopy research to a wide range of academic and industrial research communities for the analysis and engineering of novel materials in physical, chemical and biological sciences.
ESTEEM3 objectives are to deliver access to users coming from a wider range of disciplines. Transnational Access (TA) to ESTEEM3 centres is obtained through a transparent, simple peer review process based on merit and scientific priorities. Optimum service to users is supported by Networking Activities (NA) and Joint Research Activities (JRA), which address key issues such as specimen preparation, data interpretation, treatment and automation through theory and simulation, and standardization of protocols and methodologies.
Innovative activities dedicated to the dissemination of expertise, education and training in cutting-edge quantitative transmission electron microscopy (TEM) techniques, such as schools, advanced workshops and webinars, are offered to the European electron microscopy users from academia, research institutes and industry.
In all, ESTEEM3 establishes a strategic leadership in electron microscopy to guide future developments and promote electron microscopy to the widest research community at large.
The summary ESTEEM3 objectives are:
• To provide access to the highest quality and breadth of advanced TEM research infrastructures in Europe free at the point of use;
• To offer the highest quality scientific support for European researchers from academia and industry with an increased focus on users’ needs via a sustainable business model for access;
• To provide the highest quality training and education through the organisation of workshops, schools, webinars and lunchtime lectures;
• To develop and implement new TEM methodologies and to disseminate this knowledge to the broader scientific community;
• To implement novel TEM methods to solve users’ problems in the fields of energy, health, ICT, and transport;
• To develop standards for open big data in TEM;
• To prepare a legal framework for a European Electron Microscopy Research Infrastructure to ensure sustainability;
• To establish links to other networks (EU and International);
• To define an innovation and impact strategy for advanced TEM (ESFRI).
For Transnational Access (TA) activities, the consortium successfully initialized the service provision and access to the leading European state-of-the-art electron microscopy research infrastructures and established comprehensive access to users coming from a wider range of disciplines. TA to ESTEEM3 centres is obtained through a transparent, simple peer review process based on merit and scientific priorities. After the RP1 of ESTEEM3, the TA Activity has met the expectations. The current status of the Transnational access achievement is 23% of provided units of access and 48.7% of approved units of access in M18.
Joint Research Activities (JRA) adresses specimen preparation, data interpretation, treatment and automation through theory and simulation, and standardization of protocols and methodologies. In addition, the JRA were structured to tackle key problems in technologically important materials and have been selected to enable potentially disruptive scientific and technological projects that enhance overall service provision.
Networking Activities (NA) are dedicated to the dissemination of expertise, education and training in cutting-edge quantitative TEM techniques by organizing schools, advanced workshops and webinars. ESTEEM3 enabled exchange and training of staff in essential topics relevant to TA. In addition, project partners concentrated on education and training in advanced TEM The promotion of the ESTEEM3 activities and of the TA offer in particular were tackled. Notably, all these NA support the integration of the consortium and reinforce the links between the ESTEEM3 members and the users.
ESTEEM3 builds on the exceptional scientific impact the consortium members have made to date through existing partnerships between the co-applicants and industry collaborators. The ESTEEM3 project is positioned to anticipate future technological needs and to lay the foundations for potential scientific breakthroughs that directly affect the European community, and which has and will have a large impact on current and future European economic and social challenges:

Wider, simplified, and more efficient access
It is evident from the huge numbers and geographic distribution of TA requests that there is a more than elevated need for a harmonized network of state-of-the-art instrumentation across Europe. This instrumentation is highly specialized and requires expert operators.

Innovation and industrial engagement
The user community is drawn from European academic, government and industrial sectors, and ESTEEM3 will be the default platform for solving their scientific problems. This directly contributes to innovation in European industry, raising the standard of living and quality of life for all Europeans. In addition, the ESTEEM3 consortium delivers new advances in energy materials and manufacturing with clear relevance to issues related to climate change. ESTEEM3 includes 5 important European SMEs that are involved in key technological developments. ESTEEM3 provides new market opportunities for SMEs to access end users through TA as potential customers. To reinforce the partnership with industry, the external advisory board includes representatives from end user industries, and the two industrial liaison officers (UCAM and NTNU) directly develop industrial engagement.

Economic impact
The European economy is increasingly reliant on new and innovative materials and on understanding their microstructures. ESTEEM3 addresses these important issues by providing access to and developing sophisticated modern techniques, with reference to the four main technological and societal challenges within H2020. ESTEEM3 makes TEM available to a wider range of users in a cost-effective way, thus supporting an increased R&D spending in Europe. ESTEEM3 also supports the development and growth of high-technological European SMEs.

Education and training
The consortium partners organise a series of workshops and schools directly related to the application of advanced TEM methods. Scientific and technical staff exchange among partners ensures that each partner providing TA delivers high-end expertise. Accordingly, ESTEEM3 delivers a number of reference documents on experimental protocols and standards freely available as an educational resource.

Integration and sustainability
ESTEEM3 tackles issues related to the integration and management of TEM data and develops standards for data that are used as input to evidenced-based policy decisions. A coordinated approach to data standards also simplifies access to TEM data for the widest possible end user base, including access to the infrastructure through TA.