The University of Newcastle, Australia

Scanning Helium Microscope (SHeM)

Microscopy is an essential tool for the discovery and fabrication of new materials and devices, but can we trust what we see?

The Scanning Helium Microscope or SHeM is the world's first zero damage microscope, developed by the COE in collaboration with our research partners at the University of Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory. Our SHeM, located in our Newcastle laboratories is one of only a four in the world.

Using a neutral helium beam, the SHeM is able to image sample surfaces causing zero damage due to the uncharged, no net spin and low polarisability qualities of helium atoms.

Representing the next major development in the field of microscopy since the electron microscope almost a century ago, the SHeM was selected from hundreds of research projects to be exhibited at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition in London in 2019.

Current research efforts are focussed on miniaturisng the SHeM to make it available for use in labs across the globe, and increasing the resolution of the microscope, from micron level to nano level resolution.