Development of transformational electron detectors for investigation of advanced materials

Development of transformational electron detectors for investigation of advanced materials

Led by Dr Damien McGrouther, a collaboration across the Particle Physics Detectors group (Maneuski & O’Shea) and the Institute for Gravitational Research (Perreur-Lloyd) has developed novel imaging detectors for transmission electron microscopes (TEMs). Harnessing technologies developed at Glasgow and CERN, the ability to unambiguously detect and count individual high energy electrons at MHz rates is enabling the recording of images with greater fidelity, direct filming of dynamically evolving structures and novel scanned mode imaging modalities in TEMs.

Through research stretching back over eight years [1-6], more recently supported by an EPSRC research grant, EP/M009963/1, the potential benefits provided by particle physics technologies, such as the Medipix and Timepix families of hybrid pixel detector have been investigated. Recent successes [1-4] have demonstrated the transformative benefits of these detectors and provided the motivation to develop commercial detectors, enabling widest access to researchers studying advanced materials in academia and industry.

Supported by the University’s Impact Acceleration accounts, EP/K503903/1 & EP/R511705/1, and in commercial collaboration with Quantum Detectors Ltd, the team have developed commercial prototypes and held a scientific demonstration event, away from Glasgow, at the leading ePSIC national facility. The culmination of this phase of development resulted in the agreement with Quantum Detectors of a royalty bearing license agreement, through which designs and know-how are being exploited as part of Quantum Detector’s product offering in the TEM market place [link]. The first commercial detectors resulting from this are being delivered to clients from summer 2017 onwards. This collaboration has enabled entry into a new market for Quantum Detectors and over a three year period it is expected that tens of high-value detector systems will be sold with an approximate value of £1-2M. Commercial success will result in financial and staff growth for the company and continue to support the UK’s reputation as a leading nation in the development and characterisation of advanced materials.

Collaboration between the team and Quantum Detectors Ltd is continuing in two areas. At a fundamental level, through the award of an STFC funded CASE PhD studentship, ST/P002471/1, the “next next” generation of TEM detector technologies are being explored in Glasgow and the STFC facilities at Harwell, Oxfordshire. Commercial development is intended to continue* through a joint project employing a design engineer to develop a larger detector array product and to provide specialist TEM integration support.

* currently being negotiated


    1. Characterisation of the Medipix3 detector for 60 and 80 keV electrons
      J.A. Mir, R. Clough, R. MacInnes, C. Gough, R. Plackett, I. Shipsey, H. Sawada, I. MacLaren, R. Ballabriga, D. Maneuski, V. O'Shea, D. McGrouther, A.I. Kirkland
      Ultramicroscopy 182 (2017) 44
    2. Internal structure of hexagonal skyrmion lattices in cubic helimagnets
      McGrouther, D., Lamb, R.J., Krajnak, M., McFadzean, S., McVitie, S., Stamps, R.L., Leonov, A.O., Bogdanov, A.N., and Togawa, Y. 
      New Journal of Physics, 18 (2016) 095004.
    3. Developing Rapid and Advanced Visualisation of Magnetic Structures Using 2-D Pixelated STEM Detectors
      M Nord, M Krajnak, R Bali, G Hlawacek, V Liersch, J Fassbender, S McVitie, G W Paterson, I Maclaren, D McGrouther
      Microscopy and Microanalysis, 22 [S3] (2016) 530-531.
    4. Pixelated detectors and improved efficiency for magnetic imaging in STEM differential phase contrast,
      M Krajnak, D McGrouther, D Maneuski, V O' Shea and S McVitie
      Ultramicroscopy 165 (2016) 42
    5. Medipix2 as a highly flexible scanning/imaging detector for transmission electron microscopy
      MacRaighne, G.V. Fernandez, D. Maneuski, D. McGrouther and V. O’Shea,
      Journal of Instrumentation 6, C01047 (2011)
    6. Medipix2/Timepix detector for time resolved Transmission Electron Microscopy
      Beacham, A. Mac Raighne, D. Maneuski, V. O’Shea, S. McVitie and D. McGrouther
      Journal of Instrumentation 6, C12052 (2011)