Team earns 2012 Innovation Award

In-situ TEM probe a platform for studying fundamental processes
EMSL and Hummingbird Scientific representatives accepted the 2012 Innovation Award at the Microscopy & Microanalysis meeting in Phoenix Aug. 1. Pictured are (from left to right) Norman Salmon, Hummingbird Scientific; Chongmin Wang, EMSL;  Editor Charles Lyman, Microscopy Today; and Theva Thevuthasan, EMSL.

EMSL Scientist Chongmin Wang and a team of researchers received a Microscopy Today 2012 Innovation Award for developing a multimodal electrochemical probe for transmission electron microscopy, or TEM. Much of the development work was to study battery components in real-time, or in-situ, during charging and discharging cycles.

“An Innovation Award is recognition of our development work, and it’s nice to be honored for our efforts,” said Wang. “Our high risk-research has been rewarded, and we’re proud to know we developed a useful instrument for the research community.”

Wang partnered with researchers from EMSL, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, or PNNL, and Hummingbird Scientific LLC to develop the new probe. The other developers include: from EMSL – Don Baer and Suntharampillai (Theva) Thevuthasan; from PNNL – Jun Liu, Wu Xu and Jiguang (Jason) Zhang; and from Hummingbird Scientific – Daan Hein Alsem and Norman Salmon.

“As a user facility, EMSL provides a great platform for trying new ideas to develop cutting-edge capabilities to advance scientific research,” said Wang.  “The Innovation Awards recognize that part of our mission and what we bring to the research community.”

Probe graphic

The probe is a sample holder that enables versatile in-situ electrochemical experiments inside a TEM column while imaging at high resolution. The innovative feature of this probe is the removable chip machined from “cheap” printed electronic boards that can be modified into miniaturized electrochemical devices. The relatively large size of the chip and the ease of machining different configurations allow a wide range of electrochemical devices to be implanted on the chip.

The team has used the probe to build a lithium-ion nanobattery on the chip for in-situ TEM observation of the electrode during dynamic charging and discharging of the battery. Findings from this study were featured in Nano Letters.

Microscopy Today established the award to honor innovative microscopy-related products and methods. The third annual Innovation Award ceremony was held at the Microscopy & Microanalysis meeting in Phoenix Aug. 1.