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AMOLF Working with the EDAX Clarity To Better Understand Solar Cell and LED Materials

AMOLF is one of the premier national research laboratories in The Netherlands. The lab focuses on functional, complex matter physics, such as light at the nanoscale, living matter, designer matter, and nanoscale solar cells. Gaining insights into these materials' physics and design principles opens up a world of opportunities to create new, functional materials and find solutions to societal challenges. AMOLF employs over 200 people, mostly consisting of Ph.D. students, postdocs, senior scientists, and technical support staff.

The primary material challenges AMOLF faces involve understanding the chemical, optical, electrical, thermal, mechanical, and crystallographic properties of materials at length scales spanning the atomic to the macroscopic level and timescales ranging from femtoseconds to years. The current need is to measure these properties in real-time and find out how external stimuli influence them.

One challenge that AMOLF is working on is finding materials that lead to better solar cells and LEDs. The goal is to identify new uses for these materials, such as the creation of one-way streets for light, sound, or heat, self-organizing biologically or industrially relevant structures, or means of processing and storing information in a new and more efficient manner.

To help solve this problem, AMOLF is using an EDAX Clarity™ Electron Backscatter Diffraction (EBSD) Analysis System. Clarity is the world's first commercial direct detection system to produce high-fidelity EBSD patterns in the scanning electron microscope. The Clarity provided AMOLF with a significant improvement in sensitivity compared to its previous, conventional EBSD system that included a camera with a phosphor screen.

"This was revolutionary for electron beam-sensitive materials, like metal halide perovskites, enabling crystallographic mapping for the first time," said Dr. Erik Garnett, Group Leader – Nanoscale Solar Cells. "We developed our own EBSD system in collaboration with Amsterdam Scientific Instruments, using their direct electron detector, but both the hardware and software integration was very far from ideal. EDAX's expertise in component integration and efficient workflows transforms the EBSD system from something only one experienced Ph.D. student at the institute could operate properly into a tool that anyone can learn to use in a few training sessions. For this reason, we were very excited when EDAX agreed to install their first system at AMOLF for a co-development pilot, while we acquire funding to purchase it in a formal collaboration."

The improvement in sensitivity with the Clarity EBSD Analysis System has allowed AMOLF to use EBSD for some of its most beam-sensitive materials. This was nearly impossible to implement with most metal halide perovskites using other EBSD systems. The laboratory can now study the effect of grain size, orientation, strain, and grain boundary angle on the optoelectronic properties of halide perovskites and, ultimately, their solar cell and LED performance.

"I recommend the Clarity for anything that degrades rapidly under the electron beam, where you need very low dwell time and beam current, or anything that requires low voltage," stated Dr. Garnett. "We can collect patterns down to around 5 kV accelerating voltage, and 100 ms dwell time at 100 pA beam current, or even lower in some cases."

For more information about AMOLF, please visit

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