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European projects

One of the aims of EMS is to support, with a variety of services, European or transnational research projects for which microscopy is the core theme. Below you find links to all projects that we have been informed of. If you know of a project or network that should be listed here, please inform the EMS secretary.


The MINERVA project is funded under the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7-ICT) and runs from November 2012 until October 2016. 

- Project cost 10.6 M€
- Project funding 7.3 M€

The MINERVA project  brings together thirteen partners from across Europe with the common objective of developing mid-infrared (mid-IR) technology to improve the early diagnosis of cancer.

In recent years it has become clear that a technology known as mid-IR imaging spectroscopy has the potential to open a new chapter in bio-medical imaging. There is good evidence that it could be an effective tool for early cancer diagnosis and improved survival rates. The mid-IR covers the bio-molecule “fingerprint region” and can be used to identify tiny quantities of chemicals associated with important diseases.
Early work based on a direct search for “cancer marker” absorption peaks has proved of limited value. However, great progress has been made in recent years by analysing the entire bio-molecular mid-IR spectral signature using automated algorithms. Mathematical techniques, especially multi-variate analysis, map the distribution of different related molecular species. Computer programs then search for and identify known patterns that have been shown to be linked with cancer, allowing improved early diagnosis.
To date, the lack of suitable sources, detectors and components in the mid-IR has restricted the technology to one of academic interest, based on weak thermal sources, low power lasers or synchrotron research tools.
The MINERVA project will take advantage of several new breakthroughs in photonic technology to develop a new mid-IR technology platform and processes for early detection of cancer.


European Biomedical Imaging Infrastructure - from Molecule to Patient

Preparatory Phase: 2009-2010 (10 M€)
Construction Phase: 2010-2014 (370 M€)
Operation: 2012 onwards (160 M€ per year)
Coordinators: Dr. Jan Ellenberg, EMBL (Advanced Light Microscopy) ; Prof. Gabriel Krestin, EIBIR (Medical Imaging)

Euro-BioImaging is a pan-European research infrastructure project which is part of the ESFRI process. The aim of Euro-BioImaging is to provide access to imaging technologies across the full scale of biological and medical applications, from molecule to patient.

Euro-BioImaging will address the imaging requirements of both basic and medical imaging communities by creating nodes in many ESFRI member states that will deploy imaging infrastructure in a coordinated and harmonised manner and thus address the fragmentation of such efforts currently present in Europe.


European Integrated Activity of Excellence and Networking for Nano and
Micro-Electronics Analysis (ANNA)

Integrated Project (IP3)
2006 - 2010
Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Massimo Bersani, Fondazione Bruno Kessler irst, Povo,

The continuous miniaturization supported by newest technologies enables advanced micro- and nanoelectronics. An enormous worldwide R&D effort focuses on the understanding and controlling materials properties and dimensions at atomic level. Crucial for groundbreaking new developments is the availability of appropriate analytical infrastructures. New materials and the demand of improved detection sensitivities regarding contaminants provide huge challenges concerning the capabilities of current analysis equipment and expertise. In the past, European laboratories with core competencies in materials characterization and trace analysis worked mostly independently.

Within the next years, the intended European multi-site laboratory ANNA forms a cooperative, synergetic network of analytically working scientists and already existing institutions. Each institution has different but complementary competencies and analytical expertise. This provides the necessary integrated approach supporting the research activities for micro- linked. At the same time, the offered analytical services and transnational access enhance further future research and development of the multi- site laboratory.

The following list shows the main objective of ANNA

  • To integrate and enhance European analytical resources
  • To create a centre of excellence of analysis for nanotechnologies and a multi­site laboratory
  • Long term vision: integrated distributed laboratory

Enabling Science and Technology through European Electron Microscopy

Integrated Project (IP3)
2006 - 2011
Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Gustaaf Van Tendeloo, Electron Microscopy for
Materials Science, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium

Nanomaterials need characterization on a nanoscale. The ESTEEM integrating initiative on advanced electron microscopy in materials science offers a unique chance to consolidate and strengthen the European critical mass by combining the efforts of the leading groups in both the 'original' and 'new' EC member states. The objectives of the project are summarized below.

I. NA (Networking activities): The mobilisation of a large number of stakeholders in the different fields of electron microscopy has the potential to create a high added value, but this can only be reached if the way the research infrastructures operate, evolve and interact with each other and with potential users is well balanced. The networking activities aim to catalyse co-ordination and co-operation between the different users. This can be split into several measurable targets. A major effort (NA2) will be the distribution of new knowledge over the different partners; this will be under the form of workshops and brain storming sessions. This NA2 partially runs in parallel with NA3, which particularly involves EC countries where electron microscopy is less popular or less wide spread. The goal is to organise dedicated sessions and a web site including discussion capacity for advice. NA4 and NA5 aim to improve comparison between experiments in different partner laboratories. The aim is to create standards and compatibility between different methods, different instruments and different software packages. It is clear that for the European industry, aiming towards nanotechnology, this definition of standards is crucial. In the NA6 network remote access to more advanced (and expensive) instruments is proposed. At the end of the project, this access will be available for all labs in the network.

II. TA (Transnational activities): The transnational access activities are set up to ensure that researchers from all over Europe have access to the best available infrastructure that is required to perform their research on an equal basis. The infrastructure offered within the project is the best available not only in Europe but also compared to the rest of the world. Each partner involved is able to provide leading scientific, technical and logistic support to new users. The success of the TA will be measured through the number of visitors and the collaborative publications. The ESTEEM web site with all available information will be the key communication forum.

III. JRA (Joint research activities): All the JRA's are meant to enhance the potential and the attractiveness of the TA: JRA1-3 through scientific enhancement, JRA4-5 through technological improvements. Equally, the wide range of different needs of visitors within the TA will sharpen the definitions and finetune the objectives of the different JRA's. The joint research activities focus on the development of microscopy accessories and microscopy methods as well as on their application to nanoscience. The different JRA's are not completely independent. JRA1, JRA2 and JRA3 are all meant to image nanostructures with emphasis on morphology, composition, electronic structure and local (electric or magnetic) fields. The different JRA's have their own milestones, as to the resolution to be obtained, depending on the techniques used. JRA4 and JRA5 are filling the gap left by microscope manufacturers. Very high quality detectors and highly specialised sample holders are not commercially available and prototypes will be produced, eventually in collaboration with SME's. JRA 1-3 will benefit from the results obtained by JRA4 and JRA5. A measurable target will be the development of a detector exceeding all commercially available detectors and in situ heating and straining holders with superior stability.

Three Dimensional Electron Microscopy (3D-EM)

Network of Excellence (NoE)
2004 - 2008
Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Andreas Engel, Maurice Mueller Institute, Biocenter, Basel, Switzerland
3D-EM Training Site
The aim of 3D-EM is to make Europe the leader in three-dimensional electron microscopy analysis. The integration of the leading European laboratories in electron microscopy in the Network of Excellence is suggested as a fundamental tool to develop standardized procedures and innovative equipments for comprehensive structural analysis based on advances in electron microscopy. These will be made accessible to the Biological and Medical communities via the creation of state-of-the-art centers with adequate regional distribution to provide access to instrumentation and protocols developed within the Network. The inclusion of the internationally leading manufacturer for high performance instrumentation for life sciences, FEI Electron Optics, in the 3D-EM NoE will guarantee a close interaction of academic and applied research within the network and an immediate transfer of knowledge from basic science to industrial application. The kick-off meeting for the 3D-EM Network of Excellence took place in Martinsried, Germany, in March 2004.

Chiral dichroism in the transmission electron microscope (CHIRALTEM)

Specific Targetted Research Project (STREP)
2004 - 2007
Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Peter Schattschneider, Vienna University of Technology, Institute for Solid State Physics, Austria

Using new experimental results, the aim is to develop a novel method for accurate measurement of chiral dichroism (the absorption of circular polarised photons). If successful it will provide a new analytical technique for transmission electron microscopy, allowing accurate measurement of magnetic properties below the surface and in multilayer materials at nanometre resolutions.

Imaging with neutral atoms (INA)

Specific Targetted Research Project (STREP)
2004 - 2007
Coordinator: Dr. Bodil Holst, Institute of Experimental Physics, Petersgasse 16, A - 8010 Graz, Austria

The objective is to improve the resolution of helium atom microscopy by a factor of 50, from 1 micron to 0.02 micron. This would create a novel imaging method with unique characteristics and a wide application range (bio-physical, bio-medical, electronics, and other applications), and give European researchers a leading position in the technology of atom optics.

3D Genome structure and function (3DGENOME)

Specific Targetted Research Project (STREP)
2003 - 2006
Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Roel van Driel, SILS, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The 3Dgenome consortium members will develop state-of-the-art 3D light microscopy techniques, along with image processing and analysis tools to visualise DNA inside the cell. They will correlate the genome's 3D structure with the expression of specific genes in human, mice and drosophila cells. Using this range of model systems will help establish which aspects of the 3D genome structure have been conserved through evolution and which are most likely to play an important role in gene regulation.


ltipurpose, transportable twin X-ray microscopy end-station (TWINMIC)

Cost-sharing contracts (FP5)
2001 - 2005
Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Massimo  Altarelli, EXPERIMENTAL SECTOR, Strada Statale 14, KM Area Science Park, 34012, Basovizza, Italy European advanced light microscopy network (EAMNET)

Thematic network contracts (FP5)
2002 - 2005
Coordinator: Dr. Giovanni  Tognoni, CONSORZIO MARIO NEGRI SUD, DEPARTMENT OF CELL BIOLOGY AND ONCOLOGY, Via Nazionale, 66030, ARIELLI, Italy
Development of a smart nanorobot for sensor-based handling in a scanning electron microscope (ROBOSEM)

Competitive and Sustainable Growth - Key Action Innovative Products, Processes and Organisation (FP5)
2002 - 2005
Coordinator: Prof. Hans-Jürgen Appelrath, KURATORIUM OFFIS E.V., Escherweg 2, 26121 Oldenburg, Germany

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