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Electron Nanocrystallography

Project description

You cannot take it with you – or maybe you can

Many societally important materials form ordered arrangements of atoms, molecules or ions, called crystals. Single-crystal X-ray diffraction has significantly enhanced our knowledge of important details at atomic level. This non-destructive technique exploits the interference pattern of diffracted X-rays produced by crystalline substances to elucidate the crystal structure. With industry increasingly reliant on nanomaterials for enhanced functionality and performance, electron diffraction (relying on electron beams rather than X-rays) with its enhanced scattering power has revolutionised the crystallography of nanocrystalline materials. After the hardware came the software and protocols for 3D acquisition and analysis of electron diffraction data. The EU-funded NanED project is training bright and enthusiastic young researchers to develop all kinds of portable procedures and techniques to enable widespread application of this important technology to any compound.


The atomic structure determination of inorganic, organic and macromolecular compounds is a hard challenge anytime the crystal size falls below the micron range, becoming no more suitable for single-crystal x-ray diffraction. Still, a number of chemicals with valuable commercial and medical implications can be synthesized only as nanocrystals or show phase/polymorphic transitions during crystal growth. The development of more efficient tools able to disclose the nature of nanocrystalline materials is therefore a hot and transversal topic that links materials science, physics of diffraction, new instrument engineering, chemical production and pharmacology.
Electron diffraction (ED) allows extracting structure information from single nanometric crystals. ED experienced a tremendous boost after the development of 3D routines for data collection, up to be enlisted among the main breakthroughs in Science. However, the development of 3D ED is still limited to few laboratories and is slowed by the lack of dedicated instrumentation.
NanED aims to form a new generation of electron crystallographers, able to master and develop 3D ED techniques in an interdisciplinary and interconnected network, where competences and know-how of usually distant scientific sectors are shared and merged. NanED will gather all European scientists hitherto active in 3D ED development and a pool of large and small companies interested in instrument development and material or pharmaceutical production.
NanED will deliver portable procedures for sample preparation, data collection and data analysis, suitable for the successful application of 3D ED to all kinds of compounds. NanED will also establish a new standard of crystallographic training, closer to nowadays industrial needs. Finally, NanED will favor the dissemination of 3D ED in academic and industrial laboratories, pushing Europe to be the leader for nanomaterial characterisation and development, with a noticeable and global economic impact.


Net EU contribution
€ 775 782,38
16163 Genova

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Nord-Ovest Liguria Genova
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
€ 775 782,38

Participants (7)