This project establishes the framework for a Pan-American Network for Electron Microscopy and Spectroscopy of Nanomaterials. The activity initially involves several US universities, collaborating with counterparts at leading Brazilian and Mexican universities, and an Argentinian research institute. Arizona State University serves as the primary hub for the Network, with responsibility for hosting the network website. Other US participating institutions include Harvard University, Lehigh University and Stanford University. Access to advanced instrumentation promotes trans-national networking, and facilitates cutting-edge nanomaterials research, while generating better awareness of the capabilities and benefits of specialized instruments. The host US institutions are well-equipped with different types of highly sophisticated instruments for microscopy and spectroscopy. Aberration-corrected electron microscopy and probe-corrected microanalysis is used to determine microstructure and elemental composition, off-axis electron holography is used to study nanoscale electrostatic and magnetic fields, and in situ environmental transmission electron microscopy (TEM) is used to observe synthesis processes at the atomic scale taking place in real time. Students and postdoctoral workers from Mexico and Brazil travel to the US to carry out microscopy observations and thereby gain invaluable experience in advanced characterization methods. Participants from the US institutions travel to their counterparts abroad to observe and participate in nanomaterials synthesis efforts, and to conduct workshops on recent microscopy developments and novel applications.
Developments in growth and synthesis of nanostructured materials enable novel properties not normally found in bulk materials to be discovered and exploited. Techniques for locating and identifying atomic configurations are then essential in the quest for realizing optimal physical behavior in these nanostructures. The complementary expertise of the highly experienced teams of researchers involved in this collaborative effort ensures that invaluable new insights into the behavior of nanostructured materials will be obtained. The availability of aberration-corrected electron microscopy, probe-corrected spectroscopy, electron holography, helium-ion microscopy and environmental in situ TEM to the MWN participants will assist greatly in elucidating growth mechanisms that are likely to be essential in the future production of novel nanomaterials. The Network strengthens links between materials scientists in the Pan-American region, enabling closer collaborations and providing education and training in advanced characterization techniques for the next generations of materials scientists. This collaborative project thus promotes international exchange and cooperation, and provides enhanced educational, training and networking opportunities for the participating students and junior scientists, who will be exposed to different scientific cultures and research environments, greatly enriching their learning experience.