Surface Physics Laboratory – Materials Science Beamline

SPL-MSB – website

Hosting institution: Charles University

The SPL-MSB research infrastructure is the union of the Czech Material Science Beamline (MSB) open-access laboratory at the synchrotron Elettra and its operator, the Surface Science Laboratory (SPL) at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics of the Charles University. The SPL-MSB research infrastructure offers open user access to its facilities through a common single entry point of the distributed research infrastructure CERIC-ERIC (Central European Research Infrastructure Consortium), which unites the resources of 9 European countries and is open to researchers from all over the world through competitive peer-review calls. The scientific excellence of SPL-MSB stems from the expertise of SPL, the largest surface research oriented centre in the Czech Republic, which operates a number of techniques for materials science, surface physics, catalysis and organic molecules’ study. These instruments include a variety of photoelectron spectroscopies, to which the MSB adds the indispensable synchrotron radiation-based methods (resonant photoelectron spectroscopic methods and near-edge x-ray absorption fine structure spectroscopy (NEXAFS)). SPL-MSB offers also ion scattering spectroscopy, electron diffraction, scanning tunnelling microscopy, thermal desorption spectrometry, scanning electron microscopy with dispersive x-ray analysis and focused ion beam nanolithography, and atomic force microscopy allowing the option of electrochemical analysis in liquids. The SPL gives its users access to advanced methods of surface research and to expert support of the SPL staff. The instruments being offered to the Czech and international research community in the open access mode are: the near-ambient pressure x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (NAPXPS), angle-resolved x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and diffraction (XPS/XPD), scanning electron microscope with field-emission cathode (FESEM) and the Materials Science Beamline (MSB) at the Elettra synchrotron.

Future development

In 2018, the NAPXPS instrument at SPL in Prague will receive a substantial add-on module, the revolutionary Ambient Pressure Scanning Tunnelling Microscope (APSTM). The MSB will receive a total overhaul and modernization of its vacuum system. These activities will likely be followed in subsequent years by building a new beam line laboratory with NAPXPS at the new synchrotron Solaris in Krakow, Poland.

Socio-economic impact

SPL-MSB is strongly involved in catalysis research, which led to the development of novel nano catalysts for fuel cell technology. They are protected by 7 international patents now and SPL is preparing their commercialisation. Through CERIC-ERIC, the SPL-MSB contributes to the development of common transnational strategies of handling intellectual property and confidential data, technology transfer and industry liaison. In combining the scientific expertise with technology drive, the SPL-MSB contributes to the strategic European portfolio of energy technologies.