Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) is an advanced characterization technique capable of resolving structural details in materials on the atomic scale. In addition to being one of the most powerful microscopes available to modern science, it can also reveal chemical, electrical, magnetic, and many other properties on sub-nano meter scale. These properties are closely linked to the structure of materials, and a TEM can therefore correlate the properties of materials to their structure on an atomic scale. With the growing need for advanced materials in society, a TEM is a vital tool for understanding the underlying physics and chemistry of materials with applications ranging from energy generation and storage to construction and transportation. Important industries in Norway, such as the solar cell, battery, catalysis, and light metal (aluminium) industries, rely on access to advanced and state-of-the art TEM. Several other important research fields based on functional materials, such as spintronics and nanotechnology are also reliant upon information from this scale. New advancement in the recent years enables TEM to provide better and more detailed insight to materials and are key in solving challenges in these fields. The Norwegian center for transmission electron microscopy (NORTEM), with three partners (SINTEF, NTNU and UiO) will reinvest and expand their infrastructure with two new top modern TEMs capable of performing even more detailed analysis of materials than possible today. These new instruments, placed in Trondheim and Oslo, are tailored to specific needs, and will be two of few instruments in Europe that can solve important problems in physics and materials science. Through this grant, NORTEM remains an important contributor to research in materials science and physics in Europe and enables Norwegian industry to tackle important environmental challenges and developing materials for a green and sustainable future.
The Norwegian Centre for Transmission Electron Microscopy (NORTEM) is a nationally coordinated infrastructure of national importance, present on the RCN's national strategy for research infrastructures. The NORTEM infrastructure has two coordinated geographical nodes in Oslo and Trondheim with three project partners: NTNU, UiO and SINTEF. The infrastructure is of high relevance for fundamental and applied research within physics, chemistry, geology, materials science and nanotechnology in Norway. The NORTEM partners successfully established the NORTEM-I infrastructure in the period 2011-2016 and have since served an increasing number of topics and projects, with more than 60 hands-on operators annually. Out of the 150 different projects using the infrastructure in 2021, more than 70% are contributing to materials solutions (batteries, solar cells etc) directly related to societal challenges and UN development goals. The planned NORTEM-II infrastructure project constitutes an upgrade and expansion of the existing NORTEM infrastructure. This includes two new state-of-the-art TEM instruments, taking full advantage of recent technological developments to tackle current and future materials challenges. The NORTEM-II project is organised within six work packages: WP1-3 deal with establishing the infrastructure (project management, tendering and purchasing processes, room preparation and instrument installations) while WP4-6 deal with systematic efforts on competence building, outreach, accessibility, international networking, as well as improving the facilities for data storage, handling, and processing. These investments and activities are key to secure NORTEM as a leading national and international facility, combining the role as an advanced user facility with a state-of-the-art research lab.