Centre d’Élaboration de Matériaux et d’Etudes Structurales

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CEMES description


Science in CEMES

The "Centre d’Élaboration de Matériaux et d’Etudes Structurales" (CEMES/CNRS) is a CNRS laboratory (UPR 8011) associated with Université Paul Sabatier de Toulouse and Institut National des Sciences Appliquées (INSA). Created in 1988, CEMES followed the previous Laboratoire d’Optique Electronique (LOE) created in 1957 by Prof. Gaston Dupouy.

CEMES is a fundamental research laboratory specializing in solid state physics, nanosciences, molecular chemistry and materials science. Its activities cover a broad spectrum from synthesizing (nano)materials and molecular systems to study and modeling of their structures and physical properties (optical, mechanical, electronic and magnetic) and their integration in devices.

An important part of the laboratory’s experimental activity is studying and manipulating individual objects whose characteristic sizes are at the nanometric or atomic scales. Most of this experimental work uses state-of-the-art instrumentation supported by instrumental and methodological developments in the laboratory’s fields of transmission electron microscopy, near-field microscopy and optical spectroscopy. These research and development themes integrate modelling and theoretical studies carried out at different scales within the laboratory.


CEMES key objectives

  1. Studying structures and properties of nanomaterials and nanotructures at the atomic scale,

  2. Establishing relationships between nano and microstructures and the physical properties of various kinds of materials and nanomaterials,

  3. Inventing and developing new instruments and measurement techniques and methodologies for the study of these "(nano) objects" at relevant spatial and temporal scales,

  4. Creating and developing molecular nano-machines prototypes

There are seven research teams at CEMES :

  • PPM : Physics of Plasticity and Metallurgy
  • M3  : Multi-Scale and Multi-functional Materials
  • SINanO : Surfaces, Interfaces and NanoObjects
  • MEM : Materials and Devices for Electronics and Magnetism
  • NeO : Nano-Optics and Nanomaterials for Optics
  • I3EM : In situ interferometry and instrumentation for electron microscopy
  • GNS : Nanoscience


In close synergy with the academic community, CEMES is involved in training given at the university at every level : Bachelor, Master and Doctorate. 

CEMES currently hosts almost 160 people. In 2020 this included : 40 full-time CNRS researchers, 27 University professors or assistant professors, 37 engineers, technicians, and administrative staff, and eight postdocs, 32 Ph.D. students, and many undergraduate students).

 A complete organizational chart (in French) is available here.

Main facilities

The CEMES experimental facilities face the challenges of fabrication and imaging of "nano-objects" as well as the manipulation of their physical properties :

- Eight transmission electron microscopes (including two prototypes) dedicated to chemical analysis, defect identification, atomic imaging, electron holography, and in situ studies,

- Seven near-field microscopes (four-tip STM, UHV low-T STM, two AFM-NC/KPFM, Photon STM, two commercial AFM),

- Three X-ray diffractometers (including a WAXS and a powder micro-diffractometer)

- Four Raman spectrometers (visible, UV, TERS,... ), three optical measurement benches (photoluminescence, reflectivity, fluorescence decay, magneto-optics, ...),

- An ultra-low energy ion implanter, two sputtering machines, one of which with a nanoparticle source, an MBE, an RIE, different metallic, dielectric and passivation deposition machines, laser and optical lithography, and two FIBs, one of which with an electron lithography process.


These facilities are located in units gathered in three services :

  1. Characterization service
    • Transmission electron microscopy, FIB, sample preparation

    • Optical Spectroscopy

    • Properties, Structure Surface and Imaging

  2. Atom Tech and Process service
    • Cleanroom

    • Physical Growth, Ion Implantation

    • Chemical synthesis

    • Near-field and Ultra Vacuum
    • Near-field microscopies
  3. Engineering service
  • Mechanical unit
  • Electronic unit
  • Optics of charged particles unit