Advanced Materials Research Group

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Michael Fay

Senior Research Fellow, Faculty of Engineering



I have been researching using transmission electron microscopes since 1996. Having developed expertise on a number of techniques while investigating more traditional materials science materials, I have now applied these to a wide range of samples, including biological and biomedical samples, pharmaceutical products, and novel nanomaterials.

I am responsible for the day to day operation of the 2100F, 2100 Plus, and Tecnai Biotwin TEMs in the Nanoscale and Microscale Research Centre. This facility, in addition to providing high end transmission electron microscopy and scanning TEM to provide analytical support for a broad range of research programmes across the Physical Sciences and Life Sciences, is also equipped with a wide range of in-situ TEM holders, allowing novel and challenging research to be undertaken.

Particular areas of personal expertise are preparation of suitable samples from a wide range of materials for TEM analysis, and Elemental mapping in the TEM of a range of materials, including beam sensitive structures, using both energy filtered imaging and STEM-EELS techniques; and tilt series and tomographic reconstruction of 3d structures

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Michael Fay is also part of the the Advanced Materials Research Group.

Research Summary

I am responsible for the operation of the JEOL 2100F and JEOL 2100 Plus Transmission Electron Microscopes in the nmRC, and in raising awareness of the equipment to various interested research groups… read more

Selected Publications

In 2010, for the Periodic Videos project ( Professor Martyn Poliakoff and film-maker Brady Haran visited the then-NNNC, where we produced what was at the time the world's smallest periodic table, on one of the Professor's hairs ( This video has received over 400,000 views on YouTube, and has been featured on TV in several countries. The periodic table was recognised as the world's smallest by the Guinness Book of Records in 2011 (subsequently, the nmRC has produced a smaller periodic table using e-beam lithography).

Mike was also part of the team that produced the smallest message to Queen on her 90th birthday in 2016, with the message etched on a single strand of corgi hair, which was also widely featured on TV (e.g. BBC News -

Mike Fay has presented talks and workshops about nanotechnology at schools events across the Midlands including the National Space Centre at Leicester, and to the general audience at Skeptics in the Pub events in Nottingham, Sheffield, Glasgow, and Edinburgh, and at events such as the Gravity Fields Festival 2016. He has also written articles for the Nottingham Evening Post.

The nmRC also regularly host visiting sixth-form and school children, both as part of larger tours of the University, and by special arrangement for the student's own research.

Current Research

I am responsible for the operation of the JEOL 2100F and JEOL 2100 Plus Transmission Electron Microscopes in the nmRC, and in raising awareness of the equipment to various interested research groups across the University.

I am in charge of training users in advanced transmission electron microscopy (TEM) techniques, in addition to providing advanced analytical support for a broad range of research programmes across the Physical Sciences and Life Sciences, and to external clients, both from academia and industry.

Current research includes tomography of soot structures extracted from oil, in collaboration with the School of Engineering.

Past Research

From 2000 to 2007, I was employed as a post-doctoral contract researcher in the School of M3 at the University of Nottingham. The majority of the work there was carried out using a JEOL 4000fx TEM equipped with a Gatan Imaging Filter (GIF) for Electron Energy Loss Spectroscopy (EELS) and Energy Filtered Transmission Electron Microscopy (EFTEM). Analysis was also performed when required using related equipment at the University of Cambridge and the University of Sheffield.

I prepared for TEM and analysed a wide range of structural, functional, biomedical and nanostructured materials systems, in support of many research group programmes and undergraduate projects.

During 2006 I worked on a Basic Technology project in collaboration with the School of Physics and Astronomy, convened with the growth of thick GaN layers by molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) (GR/???)

2003-2006: I worked on an EPSRC funded project (GR/S25630/01) entitled 'Microstructural Characterisation of III-V spintronic, photonic and electronic heterostructures', as a named RA associated with the contract. This research was concerned with the structural characterisation of doped GaN and GaAs ferromagnetic semiconductor layers grown by MBE. I additionally worked on materials in collaboration with both academic and industrial researchers in Europe.

2000-2003: I worked on an EPSRC funded project project (GR/M87078/01) entitled 'Optimisation of GaN contact technology' in collaboration with QinetiQ Ltd (Malvern). The research was concerned with the chemical analysis of Ti-based contacts to nitride semiconductor device structures, e.g. correlating microstructural properties to the electrical characteristics of field effect transistors.

Future Research

The nmRC electron microscopy facilities are well equipped for in-situ, dynamical analysis. I am particularly interested in utilising the transmission electron microscope to improve the understanding of the interrelationship between the process, structure and functional properties of nanostructured materials and devices, and in extending established techniques to challenging materials with Engineering and Life Sciences applications. The nmRC has recently received EPSRC funding to upgrade the detectors on two TEMs in 2022 (Gatan K3-IS on the 2100F, Gatan OneView on the 2100Plus), which has allowed further state of the art research, e.g. on beam sensitive materials.

Advanced Materials Research Group

Faculty of Engineering
The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD