What is the goal of the Collaborative Partner and Reference Site with Leica Microsystems?
Guillaume Fiquet: The “Institut de Minéralogie, de Physique des Matériaux et de Cosmochimie (IMPMC – www.impmc.upmc.fr) is a research unit of the University Pierre et Marie Curie – Paris 6, under contract with CNRS (UMR 7590), Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, and IRD. The Institute now counts more than 120 permanent scientists or staff members and 60 visitors, postdoctoral fellows and PhD students.
More interestingly, the research activities of the IMPMC cover a unique range of interdisciplinary topics in condensed matter physics, mineralogy and biology. Synthesis and observation of samples is an important aspect of our day-to-day research. Among various items of equipment used in the institute, Leica microscopes, binoculars and preparation tools have always been our choice. I think we can have a very interactive and constructive collaboration with Leica Microsystems, and we offer a range of services for further nanoscale observations of samples prepared with Leica equipment.
What are the benefits for users of the site?
Guillaume Fiquet: IMPMC is located at the center of Paris on Jussieu campus. Even if the campus is still undergoing quite intense building work, the lab is fully operational and easy to access. Beyond preparation or optical observation of samples, users of the IMPMC site can benefit from a large experience in material science. The IMPMC has a long-standing tradition and expertise in high-pressure science and technology, advanced spectroscopic techniques for investigating the structural, electronic and dynamical properties of complex solids and in first principles theoretical modelling of these properties. In parallel, the institute has a strong involvement in large instruments such as synchrotron sources, where competences in x-ray theory, optics and various x-ray spectroscopic or diffraction techniques are unanimously recognized. The research strategy of the IMPMC strongly relies on the effective feedback between materials synthesis and physical characterization, advanced spectroscopic studies and theory and modelling.
On top of that, we host some of the most amazing collections of minerals and meteorites not only in France, but in the whole world. These are the most ancient in Paris. The minerals collection of IMPMC has been inherited from the 19th century collection of La Sorbonne. The origin of the collection of the French Musée National d’Histoire Naturelle (MNHN) also goes back to the middle of the 19th century. It was significantly expanded and enriched due to the great interest and curiosity of several naturalists and scientists, and particularly by Auguste Daubrée and Alfred Lacroix.
Who can use the site?
Guillaume Fiquet: Any scientist interested in material science or mineralogy should pay a visit. We have a large number of visiting scientists, working in collaboration with one of the ten groups in our institute, who come here to carry out experiments, observations, theoretical calculations, or collaborate on experiments on large instruments such as synchrotron sources, XFEL, high-power lasers or neutron sources. Of course, any scientist interested in Leica preparation tools should apply for a demo.
Which applications and research goals can be realized here?
Guillaume Fiquet: IMPMC is expert in a broad range of activities, from the study of the structural and electronic properties of both natural and advanced synthetic materials, the physical properties of high-pressure minerals with applications for Deep Earth geophysics, bio-mineralogy with a strong focus on early life and environmental research to the structure of macromolecules of biological or biochemical interest.
More specifically, the Leica EM TIC 3X Ion Beam Slope Cutter operating at the IMPMC allows cross-sections to be produced of hard, soft, porous, heat-sensitive, brittle and/or heterogeneous material, not only for scanning electron microscopy, but also for a number of micro-analyses (EDS, EBSD,