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State-of-the-art technology for Devon business collaboration

The Plymouth Materials Characterisation Project (PMCP) sees the flagship facility Plymouth Electron Microscopy Centre (PEMC) expand its electron microscopy offer to Devon businesses, presenting a unique opportunity to include 3D electron microscopy imaging and analysis.

Devon companies have the opportunity to use the focused ion beam, scanning electron microscope (FIB-SEM) for free, working with two technical specialists as well as expert academic researchers between now and 2020. 

The project is supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and is expected to make waves across a range of sectors for businesses in Devon as the only commercially available FIB-SEM in the South West.

Plymouth Electron Microscopy Centre (PEMC)

Based in the University of Plymouth, this multi-user facility supports both academic research and commercial customers across a range of disciplines and sectors. PEMC provides access to a comprehensive suite of light microscopes, electron microscopes (EM), imaging processing and analysis software, alongside 40+ years of relevant expertise.

Working with industry for over 30 years, PEMC is a sustainable facility with a wealth of experience of working with businesses to identify and explore solutions to product issues across sectors like engineering, advanced manufacturing, photonics, geology, microelectronics and more.

The FIB-SEM is currently only available to Devon SMEs, until project completion in mid-2020 when it will become commercially available for all. However the rest of PEMC's suite of electron microscopes is available commercially to all throughout the project lifetime.

PMCP and businesses

In order to be eligible for the Plymouth Materials Characterisation Project and, therefore, qualify for free use of the FIB-SEM and business support, your company must be:

  • located in Devon
  • a small to medium sized enterprise
    • less than 250 employees
    • annual turnover below €50 million (approximately £42 million)
  • not more than 25% owned by a non-eligible company.

If you believe your business is eligible and would like to speak to our PEMC team about the project, please contact:
Plymouth Electron Microscopy Centre on or 01752 588908.

My business is not eligible – what can I do instead?

PEMC's broad range of specialist equipment is still open for commercial use. If your business could benefit from high resolution imaging and analysis for your products, please get in touch with our PEMC team to discuss the range of options available to you.

How does the FIB-SEM work?

FIB-SEM stands for 'focused-ion beam, scanning electron microscope'. A typical electron microscope uses a single beam to gather data from a material, using x-rays to image and analyse the sample. 

The FIB-SEM adds a second beam, the ion-beam, which is able to cut into the material while analysing it to build a 3D stack of data on a nanometre scale. This pushes the capabilities of the PEMC into a new era, allowing a deeper and more precise understanding of material samples that can lead to better product quality, new material development, waste reduction, and research-led decision making.

For more information on how the FIB-SEM works, its capabilities, and potential application to your business, take a technical look here.

Plymouth Electron Microscopy Centre

Our flagship facility provides access to a comprehensive suite of light microscopes, electron microscopes (EM), image processing and analysis software, plus decades of experience from our team of specialists.

We support students, researchers, academics and businesses across a range of disciplines and sectors, from engineering and advanced manufacturing to geology, textiles, planetary science and beyond. 

Find out more about our work, and how we can help you with our state-of-the-art equipment

Plymouth Electron Microscopy Centre

European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

The University of Plymouth is proud to be supported by the European Regional Development Fund. As one stream of funding under the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) Growth Programme 2014–2020, the ERDF focuses on smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
The main priorities involve contributions to research and innovation, supporting and promoting small and medium size enterprises (SMEs), and the creation of a low carbon economy.
European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) logo