X-ray Microscopy and Spectroscopy
Our research focuses on developing and applying spectro-microscopic techniques to obtain insights about nanoscale processes, which is critical towards understanding how advanced functional materials operate. Most advanced functional devices are composed of multiple phases in the form of hierarchical structures, and their distribution and interplay determines the materials properties. Because these hierarchies are assembled at scales larger than a few nanometers, tools that can probe multiple levels of complexity are required. The main challenges for probing hierarchically structured materials are therefore to inspect a large field of view with sufficient spatial resolution while obtaining chemical information. Ideally the analysis is carried out in-situ or even under operando conditions, studying advanced functional materials under realistic working conditions.
X-ray spectro-microscopy in combination with x-ray tomography is one of the methods able to tackle most of the above mentioned challenges. Its flexibility in terms of harsh working conditions (e.g. high pressures or temperatures) and easy sample preparation makes it an invaluable tool for studying various functional materials. Examples of our work range from studies of catalyst materials (fluid catalytic cracking, Fischer–Tropsch synthesis) to battery electrode materials, or the analysis of roman pottery aiming for the recovery of lost ancient ceramic technology (figure 1).
Figure 1: Full-field transmission X-ray microscopy (FF-TXM) in combination with x-ray absorption near edge structures (XANES) analysis (central map) and tomography (right) of Roman ceramics (left) to estimate firing conditions.