In order to achieve a vibration-free environment, a concrete slab is cast on a sand bed directly on the bedrock underneath the Arrhenius Laboratory.
In order to achieve a vibration-free environment, a concrete slab is cast on a sand bed directly on the bedrock underneath the Arrhenius Laboratory. Photo: Niklas Björling


Renovation of the Arrhenius Library is already underway. A new structure inside the building will soon be located where book shelves used to stand. A transmission electron microscope is a sensitive instrument that places high demands on its environment in order to deliver good results. The temperature cannot change more than 0.2 degrees per hour, vibrations from people walking in the hallways must be reduced, and magnetic fields must be shielded.

The Department of Materials and Environmental Chemistry (MMK) already has four transmission electron microscopes. Two of these will be retired when when the new microscope is in place. The existing microscopes were an investment into high accessibility and width; they were not the most advanced instruments, but many people could use them. The new microscope is an investment in excellence.

Gunnar Svensson
Gunnar Svensson

“When it is delivered, it will be the most modern microscope in the world. In order to attract talented doctoral students and researchers, we need this special investment. Stockholm University is already very prominent in materials chemistry; now we can take a step further and make the University even more attractive,” says Gunnar Svensson, head of the Department of Materials and Environmental Chemistry.

The new microscope will enable researchers to see in nanoparticles where every single atom is, as well as identify individual atoms of chemical elements. For example, it will be possible to look more closely at polymers, such as polysaccharides, or better understand catalysts and batteries.

On 19 June, the collaboration CEM4MAT, Centre of Electron Microscopy for Materials, will be launched. Stockholm University, KTH, Uppsala University and the research group Swerea-KIMAB all have their own electron microscopes, but they have different instruments and specialist expertise. The collaboration will allow everyone to learn from each other and take full advantage of the instruments. Regional businesses will also benefit from the new research infrastructure. It takes a long time to learn how to use such advanced microscopes, and the operating costs are high. Gunnar Svensson and his colleagues want as many people as possible to use them.

“In order to achieve this, we collaborate, clarify and synchronise. We will show what courses are available on electron microscopy, organise joint workshops and gather specialists with various expertise. CEM4MAT will target all types of users, business partners are also welcome. As long as we get to know each other and meet often, it is going to be easy,” says Gunnar Svensson.

The funding to initiate CEM4MAT comes from a collaboration grant at the External Relations and Communications Office at Stockholm University. Apart from that, there is no joint economy; each institution owns its own instruments and provides its own staff. The investment into Stockholm University’s new microscope is expected to total SEK 50 million. The renovation is paid for by the University, and when it comes to the microscope, half of the investment is paid for by the Department of Materials and Environmental Chemistry, with the other half being funded by the Faculty of Science. The operating costs will be financed by the users.

“Our vision is that our new microscope and CEM4MAT will be so successful that we will be able to attract external funding to cover the operating costs in the future,” says Gunnar Svensson.


The launch of CEM4MAT will take place in Uppsala on 19 June in connection with the inauguration of Uppsala University’s new microscope, a little sister to the one purchased for Stockholm University. More information is available at

Film about CEM4MAT

Transmission electron microscope (TEM)

A narrow beam of electrons is projected through the object and magnified into an image by electromagnetic lenses. Using electrons, the microscope can display objects smaller than the diffraction limit of visible light (e.g. individual atoms).