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Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam – Deutsches GeoForschungs Zentrum (GFZ)


The Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam, Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum GFZ  is the national research centre for Earth Sciences of Germany.

Potsdam Imaging and Spectral analysis (PISA) Facility

The PISA facility at the GFZ has been a focal point and driving force for earth material research in Germany for more than 30 years. We operate earth science-specific, state-of-the-art electron microscopes that allow various imaging and analyses workflows for structural, crystallographic and chemical studies of earth materials both in two- and three-dimensions. Through EXCITE, GFZ provides access to three Scanning Electron Microscopy systems, of which two FIB-SEMs, and two Transmission Electron Microscopes.

Equipment PISA


Scanning Electron Microscopy:

Zeiss: Ultra Plus (FEG-SEM):
The ZEISS Ultra Plus field emission scanning electron microscope allows recording of high-resolution images. The complete detection system of the Ultra Plus combines various detectors: the In-Lens & SE detector for high-resolution images, the In-Lens Energy Selective Backscatter Detector (EsB) & Annular Backscatter Detector (AsB) for an impressive material contrast of each sample, and energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) for elemental analysis. We can use the ZEISS Ultra Plus in a variety of scientific areas, including material and geological research. In life sciences, the Ultra Plus allows us to easily analyse samples with high throughput and receive large amounts of data. In addition, the Ultra Plus also offers the possibility of analysing natural biological samples with cryo-attachment and cathodoluminescence (CL) for minerals and material science samples.

Focussed Ion Beam-Scanning Electron microscopy:

Quanta 3D (FEG-FIB-SEM):
A FEI (ThermoFisher Scientific) Quanta 3D FEG is a state-of-the-art Dual Beam device. The SEM column is optimized for high brightness & high-current at acceleration voltage from 200V to 30kV and probe currents from 1pA to 65 pA. Magnifications: x30 – x1.000.000; SE & BSE detectors; Low-vacuum SED (used in low vacuum mode); EDAX TEAM and APEX software for EBSD and EDS. Maximum electron beam resolution – 0.8 nm at 30kV (STEM); Focused Ion Beam Column: Ion source – 1kV to 30 kV. Maximum ion beam resolution – 7 nm at 30kV. Omniprobe nanomanipulator. In situ Pt and C gas injection systems.

Helios G4 Dual Beam (FIB-SEM):
The ThermoFisher Scientific Helios G4 Dual Beam Helios G4 UC delivers a resolution of 0.6 nm at 30 kV STEM, 0.7 nm at 1 kV, 1.0 nm at 500V (ICD). Electron beam current range: 0.8 pA to 100 nA, accelerating voltage range: 200 V to 30 kV. Maximum horizontal field width: 2.3 mm at 4 mm WD. Ion beam current range: 0.1 pA to 65 nA, accelerating Voltage range: 500 V to 30 kV. Elstar inlens SE/BSE detector; Everhart-Thornley SE detector (ETD); Retractable STEM3+ detector with BF/DF/HAADF segments; Gas Injection System; Easylift for precise in situ sample manipulation; AutoTEM wizard automated sample preparation.

Transmission Electron Microscopy:

Tencai F20 G2 X-Twin (FEG-TEM):
The FEI (ThermoFisher Scientific) Tecnai G2 F20 X-Twin (200 kV) delivers a spatial resolution of < 0.3 nm at 200 kV; FEG electron source; HAADF Detector; Gatan Tridiem (EELS, EFTEM); EDAX energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy system; TEM sample holders: Gatan double-tilt holder; Single-tilt tomography holder; low background double-tilt holder; Single-tilt rotation holder; Gatan double-tilt liquid nitrogen holder; Gatan heating holder.

Themis Z (FEG-STEM):
ThermoFisher Scientific Themis Z (3.1); Cs S-CORR Probe Corrector (80-300 kV) (space resolution is < 0.06 nm at 300 kV); XFEG electron source with a monochromator (energy resolution is < 0.3 eV); HAADF, DF2, DF4 and BF Detectors; STEM Imaging of light elements; SuperX energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy system; Gatan Imaging Filter Continuum ER/1065 (EELS, EFTEM); Low-dose Exposure Technique; Precession electron diffraction.


Nano-scale manipulation of Earth materials:
We have strong expertise in the preparation of both inorganic and hybrid bio-geo materials for micrometer-sized specimens. We offer spatially resolved sectioning via FIB-SEM nanomanipulation and or ion milling. We also can prepare slices of both inorganic and hybrid samples using an ultramicrotome operated at room temperature or in cryo mode. Staining and embedding for biological samples is also possible. Through these approaches, various samples covering a large breadth of research interests can be prepared for subsequent investigation with SEM or TEM.

Processing and data acquisition software

Velox, TIA, Digital Micrograph, Nanomegas, Aviso, QSTEM, Dr. Probe, TEAM, TSL OIM, Slice&View

Sample preparation

Equipped with a vacuum sputter system Leica ACE600, a Gatan Model 656 Dimple Grinder, a Gatan Model Duo Mill 600, a Vitrobot Mark IV System, a PIPS Gatan ion milling system. A staining and fixing station and microwave oven PELCO BioWave Pro and a Critical point dryer Leica EM CPD300 are provided by PISA for sample preparation.

Curious to learn more?

Interested in gaining access to the EXCITE2 facilities? Please enter your email address and be one of the first to be informed when we open the first EXCITE2 call for proposals. Other questions? Contact us here.

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