EMU SCHOOL “Nanoscopic approaches in Earth and Planetary Sciences”

In the last decade the geoscientific community benefitted from a number of new technical developments regarding the preparation and analysis of materials on the nano scale, which were sometimes even driven by specific geo- and cosmo-scientific research. Consequently, the 9th EMU School taking place in Munich from August 12th to 17th in 2007 was dedicated to the nanoscopic approaches in Earth and Planetary Sciences. The school was held and organized by Frank E. Brenker (Univ. Frankfurt, Germany) and Guntram Jordan (Univ. München, Germany). Additional invited lecturers were Richard Wirth (GFZ Potsdam, Germany), Ute Golla-Schindler (Univ. Münster, Germany), Ian Lyon (Univ. Manchester, UK), Baerbel Winterholler (MPI for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany), Smail Mostefaoui (Museum National d’Historie Naturelle, Paris, France), Laszlo Vincze (Ghent Univ., Belgium), Carlos M. Pina (Univ. Complutense, Madrid, Spain) and Udo Becker (Univ. of Michigan, USA). The school was focused on the presentation of methods resolving composition and structure on the nano scale such as Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS) including the new Nano-SIMS, Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) with additional focus on the new Focused Ion Beam thinning (FIB) technique as well as Electron Energy Loss Spectroscopy (EELS) and energy-filtered TEM to measure and map valence states of iron and other ions, the most recent developments in Synchrotron Radiation towards nano scale resolution, and methods dedicated for mineral surfaces like Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) or, more general, Scanning Probe Microscopy (SPM). Related to the latter topic, theories for surface reaction kinetics and computational methods to simulate and understand properties of nano scaled features and materials were also introduced. The lectures were in general of high quality, didactically well and gave a very updated and excellent overview of nano scaled analytical methods and its potential applications.

The audience was comprised of about 50 young researchers from 14 different, mostly European countries. The participants had the opportunity to show their own research field and interests by posters. During the time of the course especially in a long late afternoon poster session there was time for the presentation of the posters and discussions between the lecturers and participants. The scientific background of the lecturers as well as the participants span the whole range of geosciences, e.g., mineral surface science, cosmochemistry, biogeoscience, volcanology, rock physics, metamorphic petrology. These very heterogeneous research interests resulted in very inspiring interdisciplinary discussions, demonstrating the importance of the development of new techniques, in particular those that enable the investigation of materials with a high resolution. Finally, the contents of the lectures will be summarized in a new book of the EMU notes series, which will be published probably within 2008. I am looking forward to this to have an updated reference book for nano scaled analytical methods.

Ralf Dohmen