The Centre for High Resolution Transmission Electron Microscopy at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) in Port Elizabeth is a facility for advanced electron microscopy research of materials from the micro to atomic scale. The centre was established through a Department of Science and Technology (DST) and National Research Foundation grant of R69 million over a three-year period for the establishment and operation of the facility in addition to funds from other sponsors.
The centre provides training in the practical and theoretical aspects of scanning and transmission electron microscopy from the basic to the advanced level as well as the techniques of X-ray diffraction and Raman spectroscopy.
The facility houses four state-of-the-art electron microscopes including the only double aberration corrected transmission electron microscope on the African continent. The other instruments include a fully analytical Transmission Electron Microscope, a focused ion beam scanning electron microscope and an analytical high resolution scanning electron microscope.
The main aim of the Centre for HRTEM is to provide a broad community of South African scientists and students with a full range of state-of-the-art instruments and expertise for materials research. Some of the key areas that it is focused on include those that the Department of Science and Technology (DST) has identified as grand challenges such as:
- Research into clean, safe energy such as nuclear, clean coal and coal-to-liquid.
- Fuel cell and catalyst research for use in the hydrogen economy.
- Space science, particularly in the area of semiconductors and optoelectronic devices.
- Biotechnology such as biochemistry, microbiology and pharmaceutical research in an effort to further the aims of the “bioeconomy” value chain.
The Centre engages in three activities to fulfil its objectives:
- Human Capacity Development – Post-graduate students at Masters and Doctorate level are trained as are staff and students from other institutions and private companies.
- Basic and Applied Research including multi- and cross-disciplinary, grant-funded research is undertaken in co-operation with local and international collaborators with the aim of creating new knowledge and problem solving.
- Contract Research – Research with the aim of solving industry-specific problems is also undertaken for the benefit of all South Africans.