One of Duke Engineering’s newest faculty members, Miaofang Chi, is a leading expert in developing innovative strategies to continually enhance cryo-STEM capabilities and applying these techniques to study a wide range of energy and quantum materials.
“Many materials used in energy conversion and storage systems, such as polymers, liquid electrolytes and fast ion conductors, are susceptible to electron beam damage. Therefore, it’s essential to cool them down to mitigate electron beam irradiation for proper study. This instrument will be an empowering tool for our collaborative research with professor Olivier Delaire on high-performance composite cathodes for lithium and sodium metal batteries,” Chi said.
This work is expected to foster new investigations across various interdisciplinary research topics, including:
- Energy materials, where colleagues David Mitzi, Delaire and Jun Liu are actively engaged
- Novel engineered materials, which Litchinitser is leading
- Biomedical research
The instrument’s specific configuration is geared toward the atomic-to-nano scale analysis of energy materials. Distinctive features, such as high-speed scanning and in situ cryogenic cooling, will be exceptionally advantageous for comprehending material behaviors and degradation mechanisms within energy and sustainability applications, encompassing batteries, fuel cells, and more.
Moreover, this instrument is anticipated to catalyze collaborations with industries in the field of energy and sustainability within central North Carolina’s booming tech corridor.
The cryo-STEM is funded by Duke and will be installed in the fall 2024. Both machines will be housed within the Shared Materials Instrumentation Facility (SMiF), an interdisciplinary, shared resource open to researchers across Duke—as well as to users from other universities, government laboratories and industry.
Used for both research and educational purposes, the SMiF currently has about 500 users, of which 60% are from Duke, 25% are from other universities and non-profit organizations, and 15% are from industry.
The 11,000-square-foot facility includes 4,000 square feet of class 100 and class 1000 clean rooms and over 2,600 square feet of specialized laboratory space for characterization equipment.
SMIF features cutting-edge technology in electron-beam lithography, photolithography, metal and dielectric deposition, and dielectric etching capability, along with material and device characterization tools. And now it will soon feature a cryogenic-focused ion beam and scanning transmission electron microscopy as well.