MIAMI-2 – a leading centre for the study of radiation damage in materials

MIAMI-2 has established the University of Huddersfield as one of the world’s leading centres for the use of ion beams as a tool for the investigation of issues ranging from nuclear technology and nanoparticles to semiconductors and the effects of radiation exposure on materials in space.

Hitachi engineer assembling the MIAMI-2 microscope
Hitachi engineer assembling the MIAMI-2 microscope

Europe has three transmission electron microscopes with in-situ ion beam research facilities and two of them are in Huddersfield. The first of which was MIAMI-1 – standing for Microscope and Ion Accelerator for Materials Investigations – designed and built by Professor Steve Donnelly, Professor Jakob van den Berg and Dr Jonathan Hinks.

From left Dr Jonathan Hinks and Professor Steve Donnelly
From left Dr Jonathan Hinks and Professor Steve Donnelly
Professor Jakob Van den Berg
Professor Jakob Van den Berg

MIAMI-1 is a bespoke combination of a 100 keV ion accelerator with a 200 keV electron microscope enabling nanoscale investigation of radiation damage. Now it has now been joined by the more powerful, versatile and much larger MIAMI-2 which has dual ion-beams and greatly-enhanced analytical capabilities.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) awarded £3.5 million for the development and construction of MIAMI-2, which has required the construction of a new storey at the laboratory complex in which it is now housed on campus.

Designed and constructed in collaboration with major companies such as, Hitachi and National Electrostatics Corporation – which have contributed major components – MIAMI-2 is already operational and will have its official launch in 2018.

Demand is high to use MIAMI-2 and will increase even further now that the University of Huddersfield has become one of the three UK universities to form the UK National Ion Beam Centre (UKNIBC) funded to the tune of £8.8 million – again by EPSRC.

The MIAMI-2 team consists of six members of academic staff plus two PhD researchers – rising to four in September with more studentships being advertised – and is currently mastering the complex new facility and its exceptional potential.

MIAMI-1 allows researchers to observe radiation damage on the nanoscale as it is happening but now MIAMI-2 brings additional capabilities in terms of analytical techniques. This means that they can irradiate, observe and analyse all at the same time generating a huge volume of invaluable scientific data in a very efficient manner.

Although scientists from elsewhere in the UK and overseas are already making extensive use of MIAMI-2, the University of Huddersfield’s own researchers will also take full advantage of the facility.

Currently, the largest area of activity at Huddersfield is nuclear technology with projects and international collaborations on both structural materials for reactors and solutions for waste storage. However, this group of researchers have historically worked with semiconductors and among the range of projects in which they are currently engaged are two PhD students studying nanowires and other types of nanoparticles. A further area of research is materials that have been in space or which are going into space; the hope is to understand the impact of the radiation they are exposed to and to develop a greater understanding of the history of the cosmos.

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