Advanced materials research has a vast impact on our society by introducing new complex materials possessing novel functionalities relevant to divers fields of applications.
Contemporary innovation in these fields originates primarily from obtaining control of the material properties at the (sub) nanometric level, allowing for dimension reduction, introducing functional interfaces or 3-dimensional nanostructures or incorporation of additives at specific (lattice) sites. This evolution in complexity in advanced materials research is inextricably linked to a parallel evolution in metrology technology. Atom probe tomography (APT) has received a vast amount of attention lately because of its fascinating capabilities for composition analysis in materials research. Basically, APT provides a full 3 dimensional analysis of materials, yielding exact quantitative data on the composition combined with an excellent mass resolution and a near-atomic spatial resolution.
Moreover, due to major advances in laser assisted APT (achieved in the past recent years), this technology can now be applied in a large variety of complex materials, ranging from conducting, semiconducting to insulating materials or combined hetero structures of those. Advanced materials research constitutes an essential part of our Flemish research characterized by an increased focus on nanostructured 3D-material systems, obviously requiring access to 3D-metrology.
Whereas in the past APT was highly specialized and limited to a few experts, APT metrology recently became a well-established, commercially available and user friendly concept. This consortium fosters the ambition to create an atomprobe user facility at the disposal for the Flemish research institutes. Being able to assess fully quantitative data in 3 dimensions on the atomic composition of complex structures, such an APT user facility is expected to exert a major impact on the current research programs and allow to retain and further enhance our competitiveness on an international level. This will also allow to develop new ambitious research projects due to the access to data unattainable before.