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Marcel Tencé awarded the Raimond Castaing Prize 2017 from the French Society of Microscopy


For its first edition, the Castaing Prize, Grand Prize of Sfμ, was awarded to Marcel Tencé for his pioneering developments in instrumentation in electron microscopy, and in particular in spectral imaging and EELS detection.
Marcel Tencé is a research engineer in the STEM group of the LPS, where he was recruited in 1981 to develop a digital scanning electronics for the LPS VG microscope. Since then, Marcel Tencé has been constantly pushing the performances of scanning electronics towards unique performances. He was also very interested in the optimization of the energy loss spectroscopy (EELS) experiments, and it is quite natural that he was able to implement one of the very first spectral imaging systems. The performances of his inventions have enabled many scientific firsts, ranging from the first detection of single atoms by EELS to nanometric mapping of plasmons first by EELS and then in combination with cathodoluminescence. His inventions have spread throughout the world, be it through numerous academic or industrial collaborations, via for example Orsay Physics that he co-founded or the company Attolight that uses his scanning system.

Marcel Tencé

Marcel Tencé is CNRS senior research engineer in the solid-state physics laboratory. He works in the STEM team led by O. Stéphan and founded by C. Colliex, at that time under the supervision of R. Castaing.
Marcel is the co-founder of Orsay Physics with the late Pierre Sudraud and Gérard Bennassayag, the world leader in FIB. Since its creation, Marcel has been a consultant for the electronics department of Orsay Physics, bringing the company’s deep knowledge in the field of scanning electronics.
Marcel was recruited in 1981 to computerize the scanning system of the STEM VG of the Colliex team. Throughout his career, he will continue to improve this system by adapting it to EELS spectral imagery, then cathodoluminescence. He has made this scanning system for spectral imaging (SI), which includes hardware and software parts, a solution that is both complete and unique. Marcel is credited with providing ergonomic solutions based on the needs and feedbacks of the routine users of the STEM group, which he frequently assists in transforming into industrial quality solutions. Marcel’s solutions are used daily on the 2 platform microscopes of the STEM group for a reception of 60 days per year, excluding own research. Attolight, the market leader in the field of cathodoluminescence, was not mistaken, recently taking a license to equip its machines dedicated to semiconductor manufacturers. Marcel has also trained some fifty users, some of whom are now internationally recognized researchers in the field of EELS, such as K. Suenaga (AIST, Japan), S. Trasobares (Cadiz, Spain) ), H. Kurata (Kyoto, Japan).
On the other hand, it devoted a large part of its activity specifically to the optimization of the collection and the detection of the EELS signal, developing a system of purely optical coupling between the EELS scintillator and the photon detector and optimizing the performance of this detector. It has equipped a number of teams in the world (Toulouse-France 1988, Australia-Sydney 1996, JFCC-Nagoya, AIST-Tsukuba, Japan, 2000, Nantes-France 1998, Vienna-Austria 2013 …). With Henry Pinna (CEMES), he has also developed a dual EELS camera. Marcel has distributed its optical coupling system in a number of academic laboratories, the principle of which has been taken over by other teams, as well as for example by the NION company to equip its ultra-high resolution EELS spectrometer.
Beyond the ergonomics and robustness of Marcel’s inventions in spectral imagery, we can summarize the originality of his solutions and estimate their impact in nanophysics in a schematic way, emphasizing :
- The development of the first EELS spectral imaging modes in the mid-1990s, with particular impact in the field of nanotubes (see, for example, [Zhang, Y. Coaxial Nanocable : Silicon Carbide and Silicon Oxide Sheathed with Boron Nitride and Carbon. Science 281, 973-975 (1998).])
- Optimization of the sensitivity of EELS detectors, allowing the first detection of single EELS atoms (Suenaga, K. et al., Element-selective single atom imaging, Science 290, 2280-2282 (2000)).
- Accessing large dynamic ranges for EELS detection. This point is essential for the detection of signals in the visible / infrared range and has been critical for the first demonstration of plasmon mapping [Nelayah, J. et al. Mapping surface plasmons on a single metallic nanoparticle. Nat Phys 3, 348-353 (2007)].
- Multi-detection spectral imaging, allowing the acquisition of different spectral signals in parallel, which was used for the first time to compare EELS and cathodoluminescence ([Losquin, A. et al., Unveiling Nanometer Scale Extinction and Scattering Phenomena through Combined Electron Energy Loss Spectroscopy and Cathodoluminescence Measurements, Nano Lett., 15, 1229-1237 (2015).]

Optically-coupled EELS spectrometer developped by M. Tencé.

The innovative spectral imaging system for electron spectromicroscopy in transmission electron microscopes as well as the EELS detection systems created by Marcel are made up of an extremely flexible and fast electronics allowing the implementation of original modes of spectroscopic data acquisition At the nanometer or atomic scale, new modes such as random scanning or continuous capture of spectrum-images, which are still non-existent in the market, are being tested. This development has allowed numerous advances in the field of nanosciences - nanomaterials, nano-chemistry, nanooptics. It has strongly influenced the community of electron microscopy, and consequently through it, the materials sciences.