Physical Sciences Inc. (PSI) has been awarded a research program from the Department of Energy (DOE) to leverage recent advances in microfabrication technology to deliver chips that researchers will use to study engineered materials at the atomic scale in realistic operating environments.
Accelerator-based x-ray spectroscopy and aberration-corrected electron microscopy are workhorse, high-resolution tools for the visualizing the structure and chemistry of materials. The incredible resolving power of these techniques has historically been utilized only to study static structures because of the ultra-high vacuum requirements of the instrumentation. However, development of battery anodes and catalytic materials requires real-time characterization of liquid and gas-phase chemical dynamics. Liquid cell experiments at x-ray sources or in electron microscopes require that samples be transparent to probe beams, leak tight, and fit in transfer arms for interfacing with the ultra-high vacuum instrument chamber. Moreover, general lack of standardized interfacing with these instruments poses considerable barriers to entry for researchers seeking access to these valuable techniques because of the high capital and labor costs associated with fabricating custom sample holders for each experiment.
PSI is developing chips with electron and x-ray-transparent membrane windows, integrated electrodes, and microfluidic channels with standardized interfacing to be compatible with sample holders. By relegating any experimental complexity to a consumable and customizable chip, researchers will only need to procure inexpensive chips to perform their experiments, rather than both chips and custom sample holders.
Technology advances in electron and x-ray science have helped lower the capital costs associated with these historically challenging and complex experimental techniques. As these techniques become more widely adopted, there will be a growing need to supply researchers with consumable supplies that facilitate in-situ studies of materials in environmental scenarios. PSI’s technology will accelerate the feedback loop between capital cost reductions and widespread adoption of these tools and techniques.
For more information, contact:
Dr. Joel Hensley
Vice President, Photonics Enterprise
Physical Sciences Inc.
Telephone: (978) 689-0003