NionMainA new super powerful microscope that can examine objects a million times smaller than a human hair has been being unveiled.

The instrument will help British scientists in fields such as advanced materials and power generation, and is expected to lead to breakthroughs benefiting health and the environment.

The £3.7million Nion Hermes Scanning Transmission Electron Microscope, to be sited at a laboratory in Daresbury, near Warrington, allows researchers to identify atoms and observe the strength of the bonds between them.

This is expected to improve understanding of their electronic properties when in bulk and how they may perform when used.

Minister for universities, science and cities, Greg Clark, said: “The UK is a world leader in the development and application of Stem (Scanning Transition Electron Microscope) techniques, and this new super-powerful microscope will ensure we remain world-class.

“From developing new materials for space travel to creating a better, cheaper treatment for anaemia, this new super-powerful microscope lets UK scientists examine how materials behave at a level a million times smaller than a human hair.

“This exciting research will help lead to breakthroughs that will benefit not only our health but the environment too.”

ESPRC chief executive Professor Philip Nelson said: “This EPSRC investment in state-of-the-art equipment is an investment in UK science and engineering.

“It will give scientists access to a tool that can delve into the heart of materials, discoveries made using this microscope will aid research and lead to innovations that benefit society and our economy.

“The EPSRC SuperStem facility at Daresbury has already delivered us new knowledge and applications and this new equipment will continue that pedigree.”

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