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Surfaces, Microstructure and Fracture Group

Within the group we have an Olympus BH2-UMA optical microscope for conducting optical microscopy, with a Nikon D7000 camera using Camera Control Pro 2 to capture images of the object being viewed.  The Microscope has a selection of magnifications available ranging between 1x and 50x, though when viewed through the eyepieces there is an additional 10x magnification not present for the camera.  The microscope also has various filters and polarisers for inserting into the line of sight to allow the contrast of the images to be enhanced.  Optical microscopy has been used for investigating the microstructure of geological materials, looking at damage in energetic materials and for observing the retention of water within granular materials.

 Image of pressed nickel and aluminium powders in an optical microscope.

Another type of microscopy available within the group is atomic force microscopy using a Veeco Enviroscope, which allows for imaging of features on the µm to nm scales in a variety of modes such as contact and tapping mode.  In addition to the aforementioned modes, the AFM is capable of using more uncommon imaging techniques such as magnetic force microscopy, electronic force microscopy, lateral force imaging and surface potential detection along with a force mode for measuring adhesive forces.  The Enviroscope has a built in vacuum chamber, temperature control for samples and a set-up for imaging under fluids.

Functionalised AFM probe.

The group also has access to the Cavendish electron microscopy suite which houses a variety of electron microscopes including SEMs, TEMs, STEMs and ESEMs as well as facilities such as ion beam milling machines.  More information about these microscopy tools can be found at