Materials Ageing Institute Commissions FEI Titan Scanning Transmission Electron Microscope

Published on March 3, 2010 at 7:55 PM

FEI Company (NASDAQ: FEIC), a leading diversified scientific instruments company providing electron and ion-beam microscopes and tools for nanoscale applications across many industries, announces the completion of a multiple system installation at the Materials Ageing Institute (MAI) in France, a utility-oriented research center financed by Electricité de France (EDF), the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the Kansai Electric Power Company (KEPCO) and the US Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).

The MAI microscopy laboratory has now commissioned its new FEI Titan Scanning Transmission Electron Microscope (S/TEM) microscope, the most powerful commercially-available microscope in the world. The Titan joins the MAI's FEI Tecnai S/TEM, Helios DualBeam and Quanta 600 Field Emission Gun (FEG) in one of the world's premier microscopy facilities, where they will be used to study the ageing of materials to improve the reliability and safety, and extend the lifetimes, of nuclear and non-nuclear power plants.

"The Titan's ability to resolve atomic detail is absolutely essential to our work," said Laurent Legras, head of the MAI MET laboratory. "Many of the earliest and most fundamental steps of the ageing process are only visible at the atomic level. With the Titan, we can compare real materials to our computer simulations to verify our understanding of the ageing mechanisms and processes specific to nuclear power generation. We can also study chemical bonding, oxidation, corrosion, and other processes that apply more broadly to most types of power generation. This combination of operational experience, experimental knowledge, and computer modeling of coupled processes then allows us to anticipate ageing and increase the durability of the materials, components and structures used in power plants."

Tony Edwards, FEI's senior vice president, market divisions, said, "FEI shares a long history with EDF, the French nuclear giant that played a key role in the development and construction of the MAI. This is an outstanding example of how imaging and characterization at the atomic scale can enable advances in energy technologies. The ablility to characterize, and even manipulate, materials at atomic scale provides critical insights into valuable new technologies and permits continual improvements to those already in use. We are pleased that the Titan and other FEI microscopes are now generating crucial data for this important work."

The Tecnai S/TEM is used for routine investigations of structure and composition. The Helios DualBeam combines scanning electron microscope (SEM) imaging and focused ion beam (FIB) milling to allow high-resolution imaging and analysis of three-dimensional structures and subsurface defects. The Quanta 600 FEG permits SEM examination of samples under a wide variety of vacuum and environmental conditions, including dynamic observations of oxidation, corrosion, and other chemical and physical ageing processes.

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