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The EXCITE-network: providing access to leading-edge electron and X-ray microscopy facilities for geo-materials research

Understanding earth materials is critical to creating a sustainable, carbon-neutral society due to their involvement in many vital processes. Earth materials control the feasibility of subsurface energy storage, geothermal energy extraction, and are a source of critical elements. However, perturbations to geological systems can also result in hazards, such as human-induced earthquakes. If we want to tackle current, pressing scientific questions related to sustainable development for a circular economy, there is an urgent need to make multi-scale, multi-dimensional characterisations of earth materials available to a broad spectrum of earth-science disciplines. In addition to the society relevant topics, the properties of earth materials determine how the Earth works on the most fundamental level. To overcome this challenge, 15 European electron and X-ray microscopy facilities join forces to establish EXCITE (Electron and X-ray microscopy community for structural and chemical imaging techniques for earth materials; EXCITE enables access to high-end microscopy facilities and to join the knowledge and experience from the different institutions. EXCITE develops community-driven technological imaging advancements that strengthen and extend the current implementation of leading-edge microscopy for earth-materials research. EXCITE integrates joint research programmes with networking, training, and transnational access activities, to enable both academia and industry to answer critical questions in earth-materials science and technology. As such, EXCITE builds a community of highly qualified earth scientists, develops correlative imaging technologies and provides access to world-class facilities to new and non-expert users that are often hindered from engaging in problem-solving microscopy.


Oliver Plümper1, Veerle Cnudde1,2, Geertje ter Maat1, Sylvia Walter1, Richard Wessels1, the EXCITE network1
1Department of Earth Sciences, Utrecht University, The Netherlands; 2Department of Geology, Ghent University, Belgium
GeoKarlsruhe 2021