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Picometer metrology for light-element nanostructures: making every electron count

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






Project "PICOMETRICS" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
address: PRINSSTRAAT 13
postcode: 2000

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country Belgium [BE]
 Total cost 1˙998˙750 €
 EC max contribution 1˙998˙750 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2017-COG
 Funding Scheme ERC-COG
 Starting year 2018
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2018-05-01   to  2023-04-30


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 
1    UNIVERSITEIT ANTWERPEN BE (ANTWERPEN) coordinator 1˙998˙750.00


 Project objective

Understanding nanostructures down to the atomic level is the key to optimise the design of advanced materials with revolutionary novel properties. This requires characterisation methods enabling one to quantify atomic structures with high precision.

The strong interaction of accelerated electrons with matter makes that transmission electron microscopy is one of the most powerful techniques for this purpose. However, beam damage, induced by the high energy electrons, strongly hampers a detailed interpretation. To overcome this problem, I will usher electron microscopy in a new era of non-destructive picometer metrology. This is an extremely challenging goal in modern technology because of the increasing complexity of nanostructures and the role of light elements such as lithium or hydrogen. Non-destructive picometer metrology will allow us to answer the question: what is the position, composition and bonding of every single atom in a nanomaterial even for light elements?

There has been significant progress with electron microscopy to study beam-hard materials. Yet, major problems exist for radiation-sensitive nanostructures because of the lack of physics-based models, detailed statistical analyses, and optimal design of experiments in a self-consistent computational framework. In this project, novel data-driven methods will be combined with the latest experimental capabilities to locate and identify atoms, to detect light elements, to determine the three-dimensional ordering, and to measure the oxidation state from single low-dose recordings. The required electron dose is envisaged to be four orders of magnitude lower than what is nowadays used. In this manner, beam damage will be drastically reduced or even be ruled out completely.

The results of my programme will enable precise characterisation of nanostructures in their native state; a prerequisite for understanding their properties. Clearly this is important for the design of a broad range of nanomaterials.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2019 Knut Müller-Caspary, Tim Grieb, Jan Müßener, Nicolas Gauquelin, Pascal Hille, Jörg Schörmann, Johan Verbeeck, Sandra Van Aert, Martin Eickhoff, Andreas Rosenauer
Electrical Polarization in AlN/GaN Nanodisks Measured by Momentum-Resolved 4D Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy
published pages: , ISSN: 0031-9007, DOI: 10.1103/PHYSREVLETT.122.106102
Physical Review Letters 122/10 2019-12-17
2019 K.H.W. van den Bos, L. Janssens, A. De Backer, P.D. Nellist, S. Van Aert
The atomic lensing model: New opportunities for atom-by-atom metrology of heterogeneous nanomaterials
published pages: 155-162, ISSN: 0304-3991, DOI: 10.1016/j.ultramic.2018.12.004
Ultramicroscopy 203 2019-12-17
2019 Sandra Van Aert, Annick De Backer, Lewys Jones, Gerardo T. Martinez, Armand Béché, Peter D. Nellist
Control of Knock-On Damage for 3D Atomic Scale Quantification of Nanostructures: Making Every Electron Count in Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy
published pages: , ISSN: 0031-9007, DOI: 10.1103/PHYSREVLETT.122.066101
Physical Review Letters 122/6 2019-12-16
2018 Thomas Altantzis, Ivan Lobato, Annick De Backer, Armand Béché, Yang Zhang, Shibabrata Basak, Mauro Porcu, Qiang Xu, Ana Sánchez-Iglesias, Luis M. Liz-Marzán, Gustaaf Van Tendeloo, Sandra Van Aert, Sara Bals
Three-Dimensional Quantification of the Facet Evolution of Pt Nanoparticles in a Variable Gaseous Environment
published pages: 477-481, ISSN: 1530-6984, DOI: 10.1021/ACS.NANOLETT.8B04303
Nano Letters 19/1 2019-12-16
2019 Knut Müller-Caspary, Florian F. Krause, Florian Winkler, Armand Béché, Johan Verbeeck, Sandra Van Aert, Andreas Rosenauer
Comparison of first moment STEM with conventional differential phase contrast and the dependence on electron dose
published pages: 95-104, ISSN: 0304-3991, DOI: 10.1016/J.ULTRAMIC.2018.12.018
Ultramicroscopy 203 2019-12-16
2019 J. Fatermans, S. Van Aert, A.J. den Dekker
The maximum a posteriori probability rule for atom column detection from HAADF STEM images
published pages: 81-91, ISSN: 0304-3991, DOI: 10.1016/j.ultramic.2019.02.003
Ultramicroscopy 201 2019-12-16
2018 J. Fatermans, A. J. den Dekker, K. Müller-Caspary, I. Lobato, C. M. O’Leary, P. D. Nellist, S. Van Aert
Single Atom Detection from Low Contrast-to-Noise Ratio Electron Microscopy Images
published pages: , ISSN: 0031-9007, DOI: 10.1103/PHYSREVLETT.121.056101
Physical Review Letters 121/5 2019-12-16
2018 Giulio Guzzinati, Thomas Altantzis, Maria Batuk, Annick De Backer, Gunnar Lumbeeck, Vahid Samaee, Dmitry Batuk, Hosni Idrissi, Joke Hadermann, Sandra Van Aert, Dominique Schryvers, Johan Verbeeck, Sara Bals
Recent Advances in Transmission Electron Microscopy for Materials Science at the EMAT Lab of the University of Antwerp
published pages: 1304, ISSN: 1996-1944, DOI: 10.3390/ma11081304
Materials 11/8 2019-12-16

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