Joint venture in sharp focus

Precision lenses, designed and built in Australia for focusing beams of high-energy ions, form the core of a new breed of high-energy ion beam microscope recently commissioned in Melbourne.

Designed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Division of Exploration and Mining in collaboration with the Microanalytical Research Centre (MARC) at the University of Melbourne, these lenses reportedly open up a wide range of applications to science and industry.

The lens system, known as a magnetic quadrupole quintuplet, can focus high-energy ions produced by a million-volt particle accelerator into a micrometre-sized, non-destructive beam to determine the composition and structure of a sample with high sensitivity.

‘These special lenses also form the heart of CSIRO’s new nuclear microprobe and produce spectacular results in geological research and the development of mineral exploration methods’, said Dr Chris Ryan at the CSIRO Division of Exploration and Mining.

‘The probe has myriad applications in fields like medicine, geology, biology, and the development of advanced materials for use in micro-electronics, super-conductors and nano-technology’, said MARC Director, Associate Professor David Jamieson.

In an international first, the Microanalytical Research Centre (MARC) at the University of Melbourne, who designed and constructed the high-energy ion microscope, will hand over the key to the instrument to Mr Hans Nieuwland, The Honorary Consul of The Netherlands, in a ceremony at the University today, Friday 1 February.

The high-energy ion microscope will be installed at the Vrije University of Amsterdam as part of collaboration between the University of Melbourne and the National Institute for Nuclear and High Energy Physics (NIKHEF) in Amsterdam.