Sara Bals


Sara Bals received her MS degree from the University of Antwerp, Belgium in 1999. Next, she started a PhD study at the electron microscopy group (EMAT) at this university. During this period, she investigated super-conducting thin films and tapes. After she received her PhD in 2003, she joined the National Center for Electron Microscopy at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley, California). During this period, she started electron tomography ex-periments at NCEM. After this postdoctoral stay in Berkeley, she returned to Antwerp where she is now a Professor. Her main research interest consists of the application and further development of electron tomography for advanced nanostructured materials. In 2013, she obtained an ERC Starting Grant entitled “Colouring Atoms in 3 Dimensions”.

Sara Bals.
EMAT - University of Antwerp
Groenenborgerlaan 179
2020 Antwerpen
Tel. 032653284
Fax 032653318

Welcome to Colouratom

The aim of this project is to provide a complete 3D characterisation of complex hetero-nanosystems down to the atomic scale. The combination of advanced aberration corrected electron microscopy and novel 3D reconstruction algorithms is envisioned as a groundbreaking new approach to quantify the position AND the colour (chemical nature and bonding) of each individual atom in 3D for any given nanomaterial.

Application field of the project

The outcome of the project will be of great importance as it will enable us to understand physical behaviour at the quantum mechanical level. Once the connection between the atomic structure and the physical properties is understood, the design of new types of nanostructures will become possible in the next decade. This will certainly lead to improvements in the fields of catalysis, biosensing, plasmonics or even medicine.

This project is being funded by the European Research Council Starting grant 335078 in the scope of the European Seventh Framework Programme