Nanoscience and nanotechnology facility

The Leeds EPSRC Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Facility (LENNF) is for the characterisation analysis of soft matter systems such as hybrid organic/inorganic systems. We aim to support external users in soft matter research by providing:

  • Free access at the point of use to a range of state-of-the-art nano-characterisation and nano-fabrication equipment with capabilities to handle soft matter.
  • Assistance with appropriate data analysis methods.
  • Appropriate academic and technical expertise.

We aim to provide external researchers who are eligible for EPSRC funding with free access at the point of use to a wide range of state-of-the-art instrumentation and appropriate academic and technical expertise. Please see the research section for some background and examples of the type of output we can achieve with this equipment.


Accessible facilities include a synergistic combination of inter-related techniques for both nano-characterisation and nano-fabrication including:

  • Analytical Cryo-TEM
    • FEI Titan3 Themis 300: X-FEG 300 kV S/TEM with S-TWIN objective lens, monochromator (energy spread approx. 0.25 eV), multiple HAADF/ADF/BF STEM detectors, FEI Super-X 4-detector high solid angle EDX system and Gatan OneView 4K CMOS digital camera.
  • Low kV FEG-SEM
    • Hitachi SU8230: high performance cold field emission (CFE) SEM with 80mm2 Oxford Instruments X-Max SDD detector – Ultra high resolution, low kV, Simultaneous SE, BSE, BF and DF STEM imaging, with nanoscale resolution as well as nanoscale EDX capabilities.
  • Cryo-FIB
    • Dual-beam FEI Helios G4 CX high resolution monochromated Field Emission Gun Scanning Electron Microscope (FEG-SEM) with precise Focused Ion Beam (FIB), a 150mm2 Oxford Instruments X-Max SDD detector, a Quorum cryo-stage and coating/transfer unit and a range of etch and deposition capabilities for Slice & View acquisition of multi signal 3D data sets and in-situ TEM sample preparation.
  • (NAP)-XPS
    • Combined UHV/near ambient pressure (NAP) SPECS EnviroESCA X-ray Photoelectron Spectrometer (XPS) system for surface chemical analysis.
  • Electron beam lithography system and cleanrooms


In order to access the facilities you are required to have, or be eligible to apply for EPSRC funding. Access to the facilities is granted to external users by a steering committee that reviews submitted proposals.

To submit a proposal please download and fill out an application form and return via email to Mark S'ari, e: m.s.s'

Within the application form or in an additional document please include the specific equipment request, scientific impact of the research project, detailed description of the research to be conducted and relevant previous or preliminary results.

If you would like to discuss the feasiblity of the proposed work and/or if you have any questions, please contact Mark S’ari, e: m.s.s'

Submitted proposals will be reviewed over a 6 - 8 week period by an internal steering committee. Successful proposals will then be allocated a period of time to carry out the experiment. Instrument access cost and staff time are all covered by the facility for the allocated period.

Download publication policy.


We work on the analysis of a breadth of materials, ranging from inorganic materials to soft matter. 

We have developed our electron microscopy knowledge and capability on a range of beam sensitive inorganics and hybrid materials, from hydrated synthetic and natural minerals such as ferrihydrite and ferritin molecule mineral cores, clays and hydroxyapatite, through to organic-inorganic interfaces, organic crystals and emulsions as well as pure soft matter analysis.

We recognise that many soft matter systems require high kV beam energies to reduce radiolysis-induced damage rates and we can combine this with cryo-preparation routes, efficient cryo-transfer and fast, high sensitivity CMOS cameras to image specimens closer to the pristine state [1]. We have a particular interest in exploiting scanning (S)TEM to tackle extract analytical information on elemental distributions and bonding within a beam sensitive material [2,3], or from materials encapsulated in thin, amorphous ice [4].

We are able to image sensitive surfaces using low kV and beam deceleration SEM and to cut cross-sections through imaged areas by focussed ion beam (FIB) milling. The latter technique allows use to serially cut through a cross section to obtain volume reconstructions. Liquid samples or very beam sensitive samples may also be imaged frozen using a dedicated cryo-stage and transfer unit.

We are developing a workflow that enables cryo-imaging in the FIB, cryo-transfer to the TEM, and process control such that we could ‘etch’ the front face of aqueous-rich phases by sublimation as well as by ion beam milling to identify key areas of interest and then prepare and transfer these for S/TEM analysis.

If you wish to analyse advanced functional materials, then please consider applying for access via the Henry Royce Institute, for electron microscopy access procedures specific to Leeds please email Mark S’ari, e: m.s.s'

Examples of recent research carried out in this area in Leeds:

  • Clays and other hydrated minerals [5]
  • Active Pharmaceuticals and Polymers [6]
  • Nanoparticle dispersions [7,8]
  • Cells and tissues [9,10]
  • Surfaces and FIB [11]

[1] R. Hooley, A. Brown, R. Brydso. Factors affecting electron beam damage in calcite nanoparticles, Micron 120 (2019), 25-34, doi: 10.1016/j.micron.2019.01.011.

[2] H.M. Freeman, J.P.H. Perez, N. Hondow, L.G. Benning, A.P. Brown. Beam-induced oxidation of mixed-valent Fe (oxyhydr) oxides (green rust) monitored by STEM-EELS, Micron 120 (2019), doi: 10.1016/j.micron.2019.02.002.

[3] M. S’ari, J. Cattle, N. Hondow, R. Brydson, A. Brown. Low dose scanning transmission electron microscopy of organic crystals by scanning moiré fringes, Micron 120 (2019), 1-9, doi: 10.1016/j.micron.2019.01.014.

[4] M. Ilett, R. Brydson, A. Brown, N. Hondow. Cryo-analytical STEM of frozen, aqueous dispersions of nanoparticles, Micron 120 (2019), 35-42, doi: 10.1016/j.micron.2019.01.013.

[5] G.L. Woodward, C.L. Peacock, A. Otero-Farina, O.R. Thompson, A.P. Brown, I.T. Burke. A universal uptake mechanism for cobalt(II) on soil constituents: Ferrihydrite, kaolinite, humic acid, and organo-mineral composites, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 238 (2018), 270-291, doi: 10.1016/j.gca.2018.06.035.

[6] M. S’ari, H. Blade, R. Brydson, S.D. Cosgrove, N. Hondow, L.P. Hughes, A. Brown. Toward Developing a Predictive Approach To Assess Electron Beam Instability during Transmission Electron Microscopy of Drug Molecules, Molecular Pharmaceutics 15 (2018), 5114-5123, doi: 10.1021/acs.molpharmaceut.8b00693.

[7] Y. Guo, I. Nehlmeier, E. Poole, C. Sakonsinsiri, N. Hondow, A. Brown, Q. Li, S. Li, J. Whitworth, Z. Li, A. Yu, R. Brydson, W. B. Turnbull, S. Pöhlmann, D. Zhou. Dissecting Multivalent Lectin–Carbohydrate Recognition Using Polyvalent Multifunctional Glycan-Quantum Dots, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 139 (2017), 11833-11844, doi: 10.1021/jacs.7b05104.

[8] J.W. Wills, H.D. Summers, N. Hondow, A. Sooresh, K.E. Meissner, P.A. White, P. Rees, A. Brown, S.H. Doak. Characterizing Nanoparticles in Biological Matrices: Tipping Points in Agglomeration State and Cellular Delivery In Vitro, ACS Nano 11 (2017), 11986-12000, doi: 10.1021/acsnano.7b03708.

[9] J.W. Willis, N. Hondow, A.D. Thomas, K.E. Chapman, D. Fish, T.G. Maffeis, M.W. Penny, R.A. Brown, G.J. Jenkins, A.P. Brown, P.A. White, S.H. Doak. Genetic toxicity assessment of engineered nanoparticles using a 3D in vitro skin model (EpiDerm™), Part. Fibre Toxicol. 13 (2016), doi: 10.1186/s12989-016-0161-5.

[10] J. J. Powell, E. Thomas-McKay, V. Thoree, J. Robertson, R.E. Hewitt, J.N. Skepper, A. Brown, J. C. Hernandez-Garrido, P.A. Midgley, I. Gomez-Morilla, G.W. Grime, K.J. Kirkby, N.A. Mabbott, D.S. Donaldson, I.R. Williams, D. Rios, S.E. Girardin, C.T. Haas, S.F.A. Bruggraber, J.D. Laman, Y. Tanriver, G. Lombardi, R. Lechler, R.P.H. Thompson, L.C. Pele. An endogenous nanomineral chaperones luminal antigen and peptidoglycan to intestinal immune cells, Nature Nanotechnology 10 (2015), 361–369, doi: 10.1038/nnano.2015.19.

[11] D. Mistry, S.D. Connell, S.L. Mickthwaite, P.B. Morgan, J.H. Clamp, H.F. Gleeson. Coincident molecular auxeticity and negative order parameter in a liquid crystal elastomer, Nature Communications 9 (2018), doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-07587-y.

Grant holders