"The green transition will require development of both new and proven technology, both within industry and society at large. To be able to optimize the materials needed for the green transition and make them resource-efficient and environmentally friendly, you need to understand their internal structure and composition", says Glenn Bark, researcher in ore geology at Luleå University of Technology and manager for the new lab center LUMIA, Luleå Material Imaging and Analysis.
Character different types of material
For many years, Luleå University of Technology has researched and worked on characterizing different types of materials, from macro to micro/nanoscale, to gain a better understanding of the materials' physical and chemical properties. The university is one of Sweden's most instrument-intensive universities regarding scanning electron microscopy (SEM). This type of microscopy generates two-dimensional high-resolution images of material surfaces and their appearance, chemical composition, and structure.
At Luleå University of Technology there is also a high-tech lab for X-ray computed microtomography (XCT, microCT), which enables three-dimensional imaging of materials and their internal microstructure, on a sub-micrometer scale.
"We have long technical experience working with different types of materials, everything from geological ore samples to steel alloys, railway rails, snow, wood, and composite materials and more", says Glenn Bark.
Increase interdisciplinary research projects
When the university now connects these different types of analytcial techniques in a common lab, the researchers get an excellent opportunity to characterize their materials, both in 2D and 3D, down to the micrometer scale and nanometer scale for certain types of analyses. In the fields of scanning electron microscopy and microtomography, the university has both broad and deep competence. The new lab center will form a hub for the technical analytical capacity at Luleå University of Technology. Interdisciplinary research projects will be easier to identify than today and new research results will arise through the interdisciplinary collaboration.
"Combining these 2D and 3D techniques and 4D (3D+time) provides significantly improved opportunities to meet the challenges posed by the materials of the future, among other things within the green transition. With the help of the new lab center, we can better develop and make better use of the knowledge and competence that exists within the laboratories when it comes to responding to various societal challenges, Glenn Bark says.
There are similar lab environments at other universities, but LUMIA has a particularly unique opportunity for high quality, groundbreaking research through its immediate proximity to industry and the green transition that is currently being realized in northern Sweden, says Glenn Bark.
The new lab also has access to several other analytical techniques at the university that can be used if necessary.
LUMIA is aimed at researchers and doctoral students in academia, both nationally and internationally, but the lab also performs commissioned analysis for industry and companies.
The experimental environment for advanced materials analysis will become a creative meeting place for researchers, students, and companies, where new ideas and collaborations are hatched.