Resolution, sensitivity, enhancement, selectivity, in situ, operando, environmental, tomography, spectroscopy, microscopy, multi-scale, time resolution
Heinz W. AMENITSCH (Elettra Sincrotone, Trieste, IT ; Graz Univ. of Technology, AT), Valérie BRIOIS, (Synchrotron Soleil, CNRS, Saclay, FR), Marco DATURI (Infra Red Operando, LCS-ENSICaen, FR), Dominique MASSIOT (CEMHTI-CNRS UPR3079, Orléans, FR), Gustaaf VAN TENDELOO (EMAT, U-Antwerp, BE)
Sydney Brenner (Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2002) formulated the interesting remark or question that « Progress in science depends on new techniques, new discoveries, and new ideas, probably in that order». This could be considered as a way to point out the ability of characterization methods to promote the development of new branches of basic sciences or applications. The availability of atomic scale to macroscopic scale spatial or temporal resolution from spectroscopy or imaging techniques or spectroscopies has provided new insights to the structure of matter in its overall complexity and changed our ways of understanding its properties by departing from the study of idealized structures and considering the multi-scale structure and dynamics including surfaces and interfaces. The challenges and driving force for progresses in characterization methodologies can be viewed in complementary angles that associate to bring at the same time answers and new questions. Sensitivity is probably the first major aim of characterization a method. It potentially turns details from inaccessible to visible, or experimental time from lengthy to straightforward, changing hypothesis to evidences. Sensitivity is a key driving force for the development of brighter light-sources of X-Ray or neutrons, higher voltages microscopes or higher magnetic fields for NMR for example. Sensitivity also comes with a variety of enhancement and edition techniques that allows focusing on chemical or structural specificities: atomic selective images, functional edition, surface enhancement, specific enhancement are found in all the variety of method developments and application. Resolution can be viewed in space, time, chemical composition, structure or dynamics and benefits from sensitivity enhancements and edition capabilities. Localized spectroscopy, spectroscopic edition of images or tomography, surface characterization, are examples of these developments which are further enriched by considering the time resolved evolution of systems in a constantly increasing range of time-scales. Sample environment with in-situ, in-vivo, operando or environmental capabilities open possibilities to examine realistically real systems in their working conditions: reactivity, catalytic processes, dynamics… under high or low pressures, high or very high temperature, or irradiation to cite a few. They cover a variety of specific challenges and allow making the bridge from idealized to real systems. By combining these different aspects that encompass developments of new concepts, new technologies, or new experimental settings we observe a constantly increasing field of application of characterization methods that provide new data for better understand matter in combination with in silico modeling and simulation approaches with equal benefit to basic and applied science.