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Table-top cathodoluminescence microscope

Project description

Shedding new light on nanomaterials by capturing the light they emit

The increasing need for detailed characterisation of nanomaterials is pushing the resolution limits of microscopic and spectroscopic techniques. Cathodoluminescence (CL) microscopes combine electron microscopy and optical spectroscopy, using a cathode ray source to generate an electron beam that excites a material, which fluoresces as it returns to a ground state. CL microscopes are currently costly and require a lot of space and complex auxiliary systems. The EU-funded TOPCL project is developing a cost-effective tabletop version with innovative light collection capabilities and analysis that will enable optical images at spatial resolutions as small as 20 nm. The new technology will enhance accessibility and fuel nano-characterisation in many fields.


We propose to develop a turnkey table-top cathodoluminescence (CL) microscope demonstrator that combines electron microscopy and optical spectroscopy to make optical images with a spatial resolution as small as 20 nm. The instrument design builds on expertise on CL microscopy that I have built up during my ERC Advanced research that has led to a highly successful and highly rewarded CL research program. The new microscope design is fully user-friendly, has a footprint of only 60×60 cm, enables high sample throughput, does not need dedicated infrastructure or support, and has a projected sales price below 200 k€. This new design can serve as a unique inspection tool for nano-characterization in a broad range of technical fields, with a projected sales of 100 systems (total 20 sales price M€) per year. The new design will integrate a table-top electron microscope with a newly designed light collection and analysis system designed together with the company Delmic. The CL microscope demonstrator system will be used to perform test measurements for industrial customers in two beachhead markets to explore the market need for the new instrument and to create strong feedback of initial users on the demonstrator design. Knock-on benefits in the academic market are also expected. If successful, the project can be taken to full commercialization through the company Delmic.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 137 500,00
3526 KV Utrecht

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West-Nederland Utrecht Utrecht
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
€ 137 500,00

Beneficiaries (2)