Plymouth Materials Characterisation Project (PMCP)

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.

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.

Accessing Academic Support - Friday 6 March - 08.45-10.00

Venue: University Centre South Devon, Long Road, Paignton, TQ4 7EJ

Claire will be joining colleagues from the University and South Devon College to showcase how Devon companies can benefit from working with local education providers, often for free, thanks to external funding. Join us for an update on the Plymouth Materials Characterisation Project (PMCP) and the range of companies that have now used the FIB-SEM to understand their materials more fully – and also hear how you can access graduates to employ and academic expertise through knowledge transfer. Full details 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

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.