Ulm’s super microscope SALVE in the spotlight
International symposium on electron microscopy in materials science

Ulm University

At the SALVE 2D23 Symposium, held at Ulm University from 25 to 28 September 2023, visitors have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the atomic world of two-dimensional (2D) materials. It is the fifth symposium of its kind, once again attracting leadings experts in the field of transmission electron microscopy and materials research from around the globe. The Ulm super microscope SALVE has a place of honour at the four-day international conference focusing on research into so-called 2D materials.

“Two-dimensional materials are a new class of materials, consisting of only one or very few atomic layers, so they have unique properties. They are being used around the globe in electronics, sensor systems and quantum optics”, explains Professor Ute Kaiser from Ulm University. The head of the Electron Microscopy Group in the Materials Science Department is one of the most renowned researchers in the world in this field and is hosting the symposium. Ute Kaiser, who will be celebrating her 70th birthday during the symposium, is the “mother” of the SALVE super microscope and has played a key role in the development of low-voltage microscopy. The SALVE microscope is the only low-voltage transmission electron microscope in the world that has chromatic and spherical aberration correction. This four-metre high device, which weighs several tons, makes it possible to capture images of individual atoms without them being ejected, as is the case with devices with higher voltage.

“The fascinating thing is that, not only can two-dimensional materials be analysed with this electron microscope, but also the material properties can be specifically altered by removing individual atoms in the electron microscope. What’s even more fascinating is that you can then stack these individual layers under the light microscope on top of each other”, Ute Kaiser relates. This means that it actually becomes possible to “build” completely new materials out of 2D materials that have a volume and whose properties can be controlled at the atomic level. Using SALVE, it has already been possible to image materials – either individually or “stacked” - such as graphene, boron nitride, molybdenum disulphide and many more.

The symposium will address the challenges of analysing 2D materials at the atomic level using electron microscopy, image analysis using methods of artificial intelligence, quantum mechanical calculation of properties and specific applications such as bio-sensor systems and spintronics. The SALVE super microscope, with whose help Ulm researchers have already broken several materials science world records, has already proven its efficiency in numerous international research projects and is also enrichening the local battery and quantum research with unique insights into the world of atoms. The fact that Ulm University is one of the leading locations for electron microscopy in materials science is due, in great part, to the successful development of the SALVE project, in which the Ulm scientist Ute Kaiser played a crucial role as project manager.

Now, researchers from around the world are expected to attend the conference in Ulm with the aim of advancing the field through joint scientific exchange. “It is an incredibly exciting field of research. I am certain there are new findings just waiting around the corner to be discovered that will lead to revolutionary applications in the industry”, says the host.

SALVE stands for “Sub-Angstrom Low Voltage Electron Microscopy”, an acronym for a research initiative at Ulm University with the aim of developing an especially material-friendly technology for atomic-resolution electron microscopic imaging, which began in 2009. SALVE, the world’s first chromatic and spherical aberration-corrected low-voltage transmission electron microscope, provides atomic insights into the world of matter, making atomic and sub-atomic structures in the sub-angstrom range visible (one angstrom corresponds to one 10 millionth of a millimetre).

The SALVE microscope was developed and produced over several years (2009 to 2017) by an interdisciplinary team of researchers from Ulm University as well as the companies CEOS GmbH and ThermoFischer. The GRF (German Research Foundation, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG) and the state of Baden-Württemberg provided funding in the amount of over ten million euros. The large-scale project, in which physicists and professors Maximilian Haider and Harald Rose were also closely involved, was headed by the Ulm physicist Ute Kaiser. The microscope was put into operation in 2017 in a special building on the Oberberghof and inaugurated with a special ceremony.

Further information:
Prof Dr Ute Kaiser, head of Microscopy in Materials Science, Ulm University, email: ute.kaiser(at)uni-ulm.de


SALVE 2D23 Symposium – 25 -  28 September 2023 - Programme

Text and mediacontact: Andrea Weber-Tuckermann


SALVE Mikroskope
The SALVE microscope is the only chromatic and spherical aberration-corrected low-voltage transmission electron microscope in the world. Pictured is a segment of the inner workings of the four-metre high device (Photo: Heiko Grandel / Uni Ulm)
A special building was erected on Oberer Eselsberg for Ulm’s super microscope (Photo: Heiko Grandel / Uni Ulm)
Prof. Ute Kaiser
Prof Ute Kaiser, host of the SALVE symposium (Photo: Elvira Eberhardt / Uni Ulm)