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On the left, a graphene layer performed at an acceleration voltage of 80 kV. On the right, image of gallium nitride performed at an acceleration voltage of 200 kV.

The UB incorporates a unique new infrastructure into the CCiTUB facilities at the Barcelona Science Park

The University of Barcelona (UB), through the Scientific and Technological Centers (CCiTUB), has obtained through a public request a new state-of-the-art equipment of electron microscopy, valued in 3.35 million euros. This acquisition has taken place within the frame of the MERIT project, co-funded with the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Catalonia Operational Programme 2014-2020. The new device, to be installed in the facilities of CCiTUB in the Barcelona Science Park, will be part of the catalogue of the Centres and therefore, will be accessible for the scientific community, the public research institutions and the business sector.

With this microscope, the researchers will be able to alter the temperature of the sample, apply an electric polarization and work in liquid mediums. Therefore, they will see structural and chemical changes that occur at nanometric and even atomic resolution, in processes such as the degradation of electrochemical batteries or the synthesis of nanoparticles, among others.

The chance to work with high-sensitive and ultra-rapid direct detection opens the door to the reconstruction of three-dimensional biomolecules and viruses, the dynamical observation of the distribution of proteins, virus and nanoparticles in cell membranes, and to the analyses of the protein interaction at a nanometric scale for understanding phenomena of aggregation or stabilization of substances of therapeutical interest.

The rector of the University of Barcelona, Joan Guàrdia, expressed his satisfaction for the UB’s obtention of a unique infrastructure: “Innovation is part of our university’s DNA. In this sense, this microscope, which joins the acquisition of the first high-field nuclear magnetic resonance device in Spain, means we continue to advance in the leading research line in different fields of science”.

The director of CCiTUB, Juan Fran Sangüesa, noted that “Thanks to this infrastructure, which combines the highest performance of a high-resolution and analytical microscope equipment with innovative features, we will boost interdisciplinary projects. We will promote the collaboration with other centres and institutes, not only from our environment but at a national and international scale”.

Francesca Peiró, scientific coordinator of the Barcelona section in the scientific and technical infrastructure ELECMI, highlights that “this unique equipment will have state-of-the-art detectors of electrons and X-rays and will enable a dynamic control of the dose of electrons and low-voltage operation, which will facilitate the experimentation with beam-sensitive samples”.

The MERIT project is built by a consortium led by the UB which includes the participation of the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), the Bosch i Gimpera Foundation (UB), the Biomedical Research Institute of Bellvitge (IDIBELL), the August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBAPS) and the Sant Joan de Déu Foundation.

This is one of the seven cooperative projects of the Catalan knowledge system co-funded by 50% with the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Catalonia Operational Programme 2014-2020.

» For further information: UB website [+] and CCiTUB website [+]