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Nanostructures and Synchrotron Radiation (NRS)

Published on 7 December 2022
Head of NRS


Nanostructures and Synchrotron Radiation (NRS)
17 avenue des Martyrs
38 054 Grenoble cedex 9
Phone: 33 4 38 78 30 15
Fax: 33 4 38 78 51 97
The scientific activities of the NRS team (within CEA MEM laboratory) are focused on the study of nanostructures with the synchrotron radiation. They contribute to the scientific and technological objectives of the CEA and of the French community within the framework of the French X-ray synchrotron large scale facilities. These tasks require very specific types of equipment and scientific skills to carry out high-level experiments on a broad range of subjects supporting both academic research and societal relevant applications. The NRS laboratory is mainly using ESRF beamlines located in Grenoble to perform its research, but also the French synchrotron Soleil, and other European and worldwide synchrotrons. 
The CNRS and the CEA have jointly constructed and operate the French CRG beamlines at ESRF to propose powerful X-ray beams, state-of-the-art techniques, and analysis tools to the French researchers. This allows us to optimize the financial resources and state our strategy with respect to other beamlines at ESRF and SOLEIL by specifying the skills to promote or to share. This coordination leads to a strong complementarity between the instruments and topics. Noticeably, we develop mainly experiments using the high X-ray energy range provided by ESRF that is much above what is accessible at Soleil. The laboratory operates three instruments on the French-CRG BM32-IF beamline of the ESRF whose construction, development and local contact rely on the lab members. 

Members of NRS

Permanent staff
Marie-Ingrid RICHARD
Olivier ULRICH

Non-Permanent staff
Clément ATLAN
Zijie LU
Mickaël GRIMES
Mahesh Krishna PRABHU

Three instruments offer a complementary characterization of surfaces and interfaces in soft and hard condensed matter, as well as materials analysis:
• the INS2 goniometer recently upgraded thanks to a French ANR Equipex funding to perform an in situ study of atomic layers growth and nanostructures under ultra-high vacuum using grazing incidence X-ray diffraction and small-angle scattering.
• the GMT multitechnic goniometer to investigate interfaces between different elements or states of matter. It can be equipped with furnace, electrochemical cells, mechanical testing machines… to perform scattering and diffraction experiments.
• the Laue MicroDiffraction instrument is designed for submicronic focused white beam diffraction (0.1-1 µm) to analyze the local orientation and complete lattice unit cell (full strain tensor) of submicronic grains in single and polycrystalline materials.

The in-house studies of the laboratory contribute to the CEA missions in fundamental and applied research in the framework of the three main programs: (i) Fundamental Research in Physics and associated instruments, (ii) Information and Communication Technologies and (iii) New Technologies for Energy. We participate also in this context to the Nano Characterization Platform PFNC of CEA Grenoble in the X-ray field.

The three instruments of the French-CRG BM32 beamline at ESRF.

Examples of studies in progress
Physics of SOI (silicon on insulator) materials. We focus on the understanding of the physics underlying the technological processes (i.e. implantation, bonding, fracture) by making use of hard X-ray techniques and laboratory experimental setups. They are performed in collaboration within the common CEA-SOITEC laboratory.
Electronics & optics materials: strain and composition. We participate to the development of advanced IV-IV and nitrides semiconductor materials and devices by using nanobeams, ptychography, coherent & full-field diffraction, and XEOL combined with XRF and µLaue.
In situ and operando study of the structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in realistic conditions during reaction by using the coherent diffraction Bragg imaging.
1D & 2D materials grown under the X-ray beam: structure and kinetics. In situ synchrotron X-ray scattering studies of nanomaterials during their growth, using physical or chemical evaporation processes. The most recent studies were the growth of graphene on Ir and the organization of metallic particles, Si-Ge nanowires and more recently the growth of different 2D materials based on Te and S.
Crystallographic phases and kinetics in battery & sol-gel materials with IRIG and CEA/Liten partners to study the basic mechanisms involved in structural operando evolutions.
II-VI materials for high-performance IR detectors. µLaue and EXAFS experiments to study device heterostructures.
Simulation of model vicinal surfaces. Quantification and relationships between surface energies and stresses by using empirical potentials for silicon and metallic vicinal surfaces.

Main external collaborations
• Industrial partners: SOITEC, SOFRADIR
• Institutional partners: French ANR; European Commission; ESRF; CEA/IRIG; CEA/Leti ; CEA/Liten; CNRS: Institut Néel, C2N; Leiden University Netherlands; NCSR Democritos Greece; Technical Univ of Lisbon Portugal.

Instrumental developments
The laboratory makes constant effort to keep our equipment at the best level: the beamline optics in order to accompany the ESRF upgrade (2020-), as well as detectors and instruments. We also facilitate the users work to perform the data analysis that becomes always heavier with the generalization of fast 2D detectors with a large number of pixels and with the implementation of elaborated data analysis treatments on high-performance computers. This task is done in coordination with ESRF scientific policy and European synchrotron procedures.

Related links
NRS publications
French-CRG beamlines
French-CRG BM32 beamline
ERC Carine