IIT Madras hosts world’s first remotely operatable Local Electrode Atom Probe
A joint effort of 8 top institutions & DST Nano-mission, LEAP is a high-performance microscope that'll boost research in nanotechnology 
CHENNAI, 16th July 2018: Indian Institute of Technology Madras on Monday, 16th July 2018, commissioned the world's first remotely operatable Local Electrode Atom Probe (LEAP). A high-performance microscope that provides a precise atom-by-atom view of a material, enabling a true three-dimensional (3D) atomic scale reconstruction, LEAP will impart a major thrust to research in nanotechnology, among other fields.
This is the first time eight top research institutions in the country have collaborated to establish such a platform at a cost of nearly Rs. 40 crore, spearheaded by IIT Madras.
Speaking during the inaugural function of National Facility of Atom Probe Tomography (NFAPT), which houses LEAP, Prof. Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, who was the Chief Guest said, “We’re going to announce two polices on maintenance and sharing of science infrastructure, such as LEAP, across the country so that it can be used by a large number of people. Secondly, Scientific Social Responsibility is also a priority. Under this, science institutions must take their resources and knowledge to other stakeholders in the society.”
The other partner institutions are IIT Bombay, IIT Delhi, IIT Kanpur, IIT Kharagpur and IIT Ropar along with International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI) all of which contributed Rs 2 crore each, besides the Board of Research in Nuclear Sciences (BRNS) which contributed Rs. 3 crore. The remaining funds came from the DST's ‘Nano-mission’ headed by Prof C.N.R Rao. Globally, there are almost 100 operational LEAP’s, but this facility at IIT Madras is the first remotely operatable LEAP in the world.
Delivering the presidential address, Prof Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, IIT Madras, said, “This model where several institutes come together to fund expensive research equipment is a useful one and can be replicated in institutions across the country. Commercial users paying a fee to use such equipment for their industrial research also make such equipment economically viable.”
The ‘Atom Probe tomography (APT)’ technology has existed for over 50 years. But the Local Electrode APT came into existence approximately 15 years ago. The modern LEAP instrument, by the virtue of having Laser pulsing methods, enables investigation of a wide range of materials from metals, ceramics to semiconductors and even insulators with a very high acquisition rate of 5 Million ions per hour.
The Highlights of this facility include:
Ø  Local Electrode Atom Probe (LEAP) allows the user to extract atoms from materials sequentially and are detected using a Time of Flight Mass spectrometer.
Ø  It is for the first time that 8 top institutions in the country and DST nano-mission have contributed to set up such a platform.
Ø  Currently it is running round the clock with the help of “3 research engineers” in 3     eight-hour shifts, coordinated by a “research manager”.
Ø  This facility will be able to provide atomic-scale insights into metallic materials thereby impacting a wide spectrum of industries ranging from steel to automobiles and energy to transportation sector.
Speaking about the benefits of LEAP, Prof. B.S. Murty, Principle Investigator of NFAPT project, IIT Madras, said, “There are numerous problems that can be resolved using this facility and I’m really looking forward to the equipment being put to good use by Researchers.”
Dr. Thomas F. Kelly, Inventor of Local Electrode Atom Probe (LEAP), who was the Guest of Honour, spoke about the importance of this technology.
Prof. Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST, also launched the NFAPT Website. Dr. K.G. Pradeep, Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, IIT Madras, Prof. S. Ganesh Sundara Raman, Head, Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, IIT Madras, Dr. G. Padmanabham, Director, ARCI Hyderabad, Mr. Milind Palsule, Managing Director (India and Middle East), AMETEK, and others took part in the inauguration.
Later in the day, Dr. Thomas F. Kelly also delivered First Lecture of NFAPT Lecture Series on Topic 'Atomic-Scale Characterization with Atom Probe Tomography.'