Research Progress

The research on electron microscopy at Osaka University began with the discovery of the Kikuchi line, recognized throughout the world, by Prof. Kikuchi in 1928. The actual and continual research on electron microscopy was initiated by Prof. Sugata in 1939 after his development of the first electron microscope in Japan. Since this first achievement in electron microscopy by Prof. Sugata, a number of brilliant and groundbreaking results have been obtained in relation to the basic science and application of electron microscopy through the research activity at the research center for ultra-high voltage electron microscopy (UHVEM).

The beginning of the research about High Voltage Electron Microscopy (HVEM) corresponds with installation of the first 300 kV electron microscope for biological research by Prof. Fukai in Japan and with the development of the first 500 kV electron microscope in 1965 by Prof. Fujita (in collaboration with SHIMADZU corporation) for applied research in various fields. Prof. Fujita found many advantages of HVEM. Owing to the advantages of HVEM, Prof. Hama achieved 3D observation of biological specimens, and Prof. Shimizu studied a micro-diffraction method. These led to a number of innovative results. Following the above-described achievements, the first and world-renowned ultra-high voltage electron microscope, the HU-2000 (regular use: 2 MV, maximum: 3 MV), was installed at the Suita campus of Osaka University. The HU-2000 was constructed in 1970 through collaboration between research teams at Osaka University and Central Research Laboratory, Hitachi, Ltd.

In 1972, the research laboratory for UHVEM was founded, and the first ultra-high voltage electron microscope (the HU-2000) was installed. In 1974, the research laboratory was reorganized to the research center for UHVEM. The UHVEM was too old for research after 20 years. After a four-year renewal project (1991?1994), a new 3 MV ultra-high voltage electron microscope (regular use: 3 MV), the H-3000, was installed at the end of March 1995. After the installation of the new 3 MV UHVEM, a new research group was reorganized, and a number of superior results related to materials science were obtained. In addition, the first telemicroscopy operation by 3MV UHVEM was carried out between Osaka University and UCSD in San Diego, and 3D observation of biological specimens were achieved. The research field by the UHVEM was remarkably extended.

In 2002, two divisions ("Materials Microscopic Process Science" and "Three-Dimensional Biological Superstructure") were reorganized. At the same time, "Nanotechnology Support Project" contracted with the MEXT started. This project was focused on supporting nanostructural analysis by electron microscopy, in order to promote nanotechnology in Japan.

In 2006, "Collaborative Research Station of High-Voltage Electron Microscopy, the 1st stage" was founded as the cooperative network of the joint-use facility for 4 years. The research station was organized by Osaka University, Hokkaido University, Nagoya University, Kyusyu University, and the National Institute for Physiological Sciences. In this project, planning of maintenance or renewal program and the budget request for high performance HVEM toward Japanese long-term scientific master plan was one of the most important missions.

In 2007, "Nanotechnology Network Project, Handai Multi-functional Nano-foundry" was founded as post-"Nanotechnology Support Project" by the MEXT. In the same year, Joint Research Division for Electron Optics Basic Research" was established within period limits of 2 years in collaboration of Osaka University with Hitachi Central Research Laboratory and Hitachi High-Technologies Corporation, in order to research basic electron optics and encourage young researchers.

In 2010, "Collaborative Research Station of High-Voltage Electron Microscopy, the 2nd stage" was continued for 6 years. The research station was reorganized by Osaka University, Hokkaido University, Nagoya University and Kyusyu University. Osaka University is managing this project. Joint Research Division for Electron Optics Basic Research" was again founded within period limits of 2 years.

In 2012, “Nanotechnology Platform, Microstructural Characterization Platform” was founded by the MEXT. In the same year, Joint Research Division for Electron Microscopy Basic Research” was established within period limits of 3 years in collaboration of Osaka University with Hitachi Central Research Laboratory and Hitachi High-Technologies Corporation, in order to research basic electron microscope instruments and to encourage young researchers. In addition, the renewal project of ultra-high voltage electron microscope was founded by the MEXT.

In 2013, two divisions (“Applied Materials- and Bio-Science” and “Fundamental Technology”) were reorganized to promote the research activities.

In 2014, a new materials- and bio-science ultra-high voltage electron microscope, the JEM-1000EES, which has a high time-resolution image recording system and a stable cryo-stage, was installed.

In 2016, “Advanced Research Network for Ultra-Microscopic Science” was founded as the cooperative network of the joint-use facility for 6 years. The research network was organized by Osaka University, Kyusyu University, Saga University and the National Institute for Physiological Sciences. One of the most important missions is to promote collaborative researches between electron microscopy and synchrotron radiation spectroscopy analyses, and to pioneer new research fields by the network joint-uses and -researches.