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Enabling Science and Technology through European Electron Microscopy

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ESTEEM3 (Enabling Science and Technology through European Electron Microscopy)

Reporting period: 2020-07-01 to 2021-12-31

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 delivers 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.
ESTEEM3 provides access to the highest quality and breadth of advanced TEM research infrastructures in Europe free at the point of use, offering the highest quality training and education through the organisation of workshops, schools, and webinars. The ESTEEM3 partners have developed and implemented new TEM methodologies and standards for open big data in TEM, and have disseminated this knowledge to the broader scientific community to solve users’ problems in the fields of energy, health, ICT, and transport.
The ESTEEM3 consortium acts as a source of evidence for the management and technical requirements for a future large European TEM research infrastructure, which provides key parameters for a future design study within the ESFRI programme, in which electron microscopy has been identified in the current landscape and roadmap documents. ESTEEM3 works towards the formulation of a long-term sustainability plan
The consortium successfully provided the Transnational Access (TA) activities service 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.
Joint Research Activities (JRA) addresses 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. A dedicated mission of ESTEEM3 is to provide a web-based platform, where TEM users can access the latest software, protocols, results and methods.
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. 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. In physics, chemistry, materials and life sciences, researchers from academia and industry have access to instruments combining several spectroscopic and imaging techniques with in-situ capabilities, which accelerates progress both in the fundamental understanding of the intrinsic properties of matter by establishing correlation at the atomic scale between “properties – structure – composition”, and for industrial challenges, like the study of devices in operando for failure analyses and device optimisation.

Wider, simplified, and more efficient access
The ESTEEM3 project is positioned to anticipate future technological needs and to lay the foundations for potential scientific breakthroughs. 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. The ESTEEM3 consortium addresses the bandwidth ”mismatch” between capacity and local requirements by promoting collaborative use of expensive research infrastructures by multiple institutions.

Innovation and industrial engagement
ESTEEM3 provides the large European materials science and engineering user community with access to the most sophisticated TEM infrastructure and technical expertise. This 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. ESTEEM3 developed collaborations with other EU-funded HORIZON 2020 or HORIZON Europe projects to strengthen industrial cooperation, like with TEESMAT, EUSMI, and Q-SORT.

Economic impact
State-of-the-art electron microscopy techniques enable contemporary applied research in many research areas, which all foster and boost overall economic impact. The advanced tools and new methodologies that are developed contribute to a better knowledge of materials and devices of great interest to the society, such as materials for catalysis allowing energy saving or devices for microelectronics used in everyday life.

Education and training
ESTEEM3 has put in place specific education and training practises, where series of workshops and schools directly related to the application of advanced TEM methods are organised. These are available to students and early career researchers and leverage the expertise of the consortium as lecturers. Scientific and technical staff exchange among partners ensures that each partner providing TA delivers high-end expertise and skilled staff to make the consortium more integrated and knowledgeable in a variety of TEM techniques. Accordingly, ESTEEM3 delivers a number of reference documents on experimental protocols and standards as an educational resource. ESTEEM3 provides an integrated resource for local user communities, e.g. for universities and small-scale companies, to train people in advanced TEM techniques and to engage with excellent expertise in TEM.

Integration and sustainability
ESTEEM3 generates a broad range of results through high-level, wide-ranging and harmonized transnational access services that improve the utilisation of expensive capital equipment. The synergy between the different work packages among the ESTEEM3 partners and the corresponding knowledge exchange allows strengthening the quality of the TA platform. A central outcome is the sustainability of the collaborations. Their exploitation post-project through new projects and continued further research is one of the durable project outcomes, together with the personal contacts generated by the project. ESTEEM3 works towards the formulation of a long-term sustainability plan and acts as a source of evidence for the management and technical requirements for a future large European TEM research infrastructure, which provides key parameters for a future design study within the ESFRI programme, in which electron microscopy has already been identified in the current landscape and roadmap documents.
ESTEEM3 TA providers map