Opening of new Electron Microscope Unit Facility

Posted on: 24 March 1999

Two new electron microscopes valued in excess of £500,000 have been installed at Trinity College. The more powerful of the two is capable of producing high resolution images of sample details that are less than 1 millionth of a millimetre in size. It is the first of its kind to be installed in Europe and is valued at £350,000.

The second microscope is also the first of its kind in Ireland and is valued at £160,000. It will enable the study of samples which have been impossible to handle using conventional electron microscopy; for example, material containing water or oils.

Both microscopes are fitted with the latest X-ray microanalysis systems from Princeton Gamma-Tech which enable the operator to determine the composition of a sample by identifying the elements present.

Electron microscopes are used for research, quality control and production problems in many diverse areas such as engineering, pharmaceuticals, medical, plastics and food sectors. It is an invaluable technique for identifying wear particles in aircraft engines and ascertaining the probable causes of various forms of metal fatigue.

Between 200 and 300 undergraduates, postgraduates and research staff from Trinity and other colleges will avail of the microscopes each year for teaching and research projects. In addition more than 120 industrial clients will avail of the Electron Microscope Unit’s services. The staff encourages science teachers from second level schools to visit the Unit and they have helped a number of “Young Scientist” competitors with their projects.

The manufacturers of the microscopes, Hitachi, and the manufacturers of the X-ray microanalysis systems, Princeton Gamma-Tech, have designated the Electron Microscope Unit at Trinity College as their demonstration site in Ireland, Hitachi demonstrated the microscopes at today’s (Wednesday, March 24th.) official opening of the new Electron Microscope Unit which was attended by H.E. Mrs. Kazuko Yokoo, the Japanese Ambassador to Ireland and the General Manager of the Hitachi Science Design Group in Japan, Mr. Izumi.

The microscopes are a Hitachi S-4300 High Resolution Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscope (FESEM) and a Hitachi S-3500N Variable Pressure Scanning Electron Microscope (VPSEM. Both microscopes have been fitted with the latest Princeton Gamma-Tech X-ray microanalysis systems to enable the elements present in a sample to be identified