The Consortium has been tailor-made in order to reach project goals as quickly and effectively as possible, but also to attain maximum impact in the scientific world and in society at large. The wide cross-section of skills and geographical spread in the Consortium, as well as its adopted policies, ensure that all requirements of responsiveness and adaptive change, diversity and inclusion, openness and transparency are satisfied. Members of the Consortium complement each other thus: CNR and Forschungszentrum Jülich are world leaders in electron-beam shaping;  Thermo Fisher (formerly FEI) is a major world-wide developer and manufacturer of microscopes; QED is a young SME from the creative industry led by an award-winning producer-director.


Vincenzo Grillo

is the Scientific Coordinator and Principal Investigator of the Q-SORT Project. He graduated in physics from the University of Genova (110/110 cum laude).
He received his PhD in electron microscopy at the University of Parma, while performing collaborative work with Erlangen university (Germany). In 2001 he was a visiting scientist at the Tokyo Institute of Technology working on cathodoluminescence in TEM. Since 2003 he has been working in the INFM (now absorbed by CNR) as a Senior Fellow researcher in electron microscopy. He has developed innovative TEM-STEM methodology and published the first quantitative use of STEM with HAADF detector for chemical analyses. He is now working on Vortex beams and holographic beam generation. He and his group are now among the world’s leading groups in this sector for their work on phase holograms, large vortex beams and the theory of spin-orbit coupling with vortex. In 2015 he was a visiting researcher at the University of Oregon. In 2016 he received the Humboldt Foundation’s BESSEL research award for his work on Beam shaping. Dr. Grillo is co-author of at least 100 articles and 5 book chapters. The H-factor of his publications is 31.

Enzo Rotunno

graduated magna cum laude in Material Science at the University of Parma in 2010 and obtained his PhD degree in material science from the same institution in 2014. Since 2014 he has had a research fellow position at the Italian National Research Council. During his career he achieved high competence in the field of Transmission Electron Microscopy mastering the main electron imaging, diffraction and spectroscopic techniques, with his main research interest being the study of materials through STEM with HAADF detector and the developed of numerical algorithms for the simulation of the electron-matter
interaction. He currently works in CNR-NANO Quantum e-optics group among the world’s leading groups in the field of electron vortex beams, and the theory of spin-orbit coupling with vortex. Recently he has started a theoretical activity related to the development of deep learning techniques for microscopy. Dr. Rotunno is co-author of more than 40 research papers. The H-index of his publications is 13.

received his PhD in Physics from the University of Modena in 1997. He is a Senior Technologist at the CNR-NANO-S3 center in Modena where he is the coordinator of the nanofabrication facility. His primary research interest are the nanofabrication with Dual Beam focused ion beam (FIB) – scanning electron microscope (SEM) systems. FIB activity includes: nanofabrication of holographic plates and samples for electron interference experiments, nanopatterning of surfaces for nanomagnetism and nanotribology studies, fabrication of nanogap electrodes, nanomachining of scanning probe tips. Regarding electron-beam nanofabrication, the main interest is about focused electron beam-induced deposition (FEBID) of nanostructures from gas precursors, and their characterization from a structural and electrical viewpoint. He has 88 publications on international journals (ISI h-index 17), 3 book chapters, 1 national patent. He is a steering committee member of the focused electron beam-induced processing (FEBIP) international workshop.

received a M. Sc. degree in Electrical Engineering and a Ph. D. degree in Electronics and Computer Science in 1998 and 2002, respectively, both from Bologna University. In 2001 he joined the Institute of Microelectronics and Microsystems (IMM) of the Italian National Research Council (CNR) as a scientific researcher. His research interests include design, simulation and technology development for the fabrication of micro- and nano-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS and NEMS).

is Director of the Institute for Microstructure Research and the Ernst Ruska-Centre for Microscopy and Spectroscopy with Electrons in Forschungszentrum Jülich and Professor of Experimental Physics in RWTH Aachen University in Germany. Between 2007 and 2010, he was Director of the Center for Electron Nanoscopy in the Technical University of Denmark. From 2000 to 2006, he held a Royal Society University Research Fellowship in the University of Cambridge. He has also held postdoctoral appointments in Oxford University, Arizona State University and the University of Cambridge. He obtained his first degree (physics, 1990) and PhD (materials science, 1994) from the University of Cambridge. He specializes in the characterization of magnetic and electronic materials at the highest spatial resolution using advanced transmission electron microscopy techniques, including aberration-corrected high-resolution transmission electron microscopy, quantitative image analysis in electron microscopy, electron tomography and off-axis electron holography. He has published more than 250 journal papers and book chapters and given more than 230 invited lectures and seminars. In 2009, he was awarded the Ernst Ruska Prize of the German Society for Electron Microscopy. In 2012, he was awarded an Advanced Grant by the European Research Council. His H-factor is 41 on ISI WEB and 47 on GScholar.

is a scientific staff member in the Ernst Ruska-Centre for Microscopy and Spectroscopy with Electrons in Forschungszentrum Jülich, focusing on advanced transmission electron microscopy and spectroscopy of new materials, in situ working devices and novel electron wavefronts. He obtained his first degree in materials science in 2005 and completed his PhD (in electrical engineering and computer science) in Nagoya University, Japan in 2012. In 2012, he worked in the EcoTopia Science Institute in Nagoya. He joined the Ernst Ruska-Centre in 2013 as a postdoctoral research scientist.

is world-wide Director of Research and Advanced Technology for FEI Company; a US-based company selling Tools for Nanotech, focusing on Electron Microscopy and Focused Ion-beam equipment. The European part of the company is based in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, and is a major centre for R&D. De Jong started his professional career at the Philips Research Laboratory in 1984. He graduated in Applied Physics at Delft University in 1990. In 1992 he started working for the Philips Electron Optics business group; which later merged with FEI Company.  He became Director for Research and Technology in 2006; since 2011 acting in a global role.

studied experimental and theoretical physics at the University of Utrecht (NL). His PhD thesis was on numerical analysis of the relativistic dynamics of quarks in mesons. In 1994, he joined Philips Research (Eindhoven, NL) and later FEI Company (Eindhoven, NL) to work on the design and development of electron-optical instrumentation such as a monochromator for STEM, a chromatic aberration corrector for SEM, the optics of the Titan microscope, and the high-brightness field emission gun. Presently he is staff scientist at FEI. He has about 14 US patents and 25 scientific papers

obtained his PhD degree in Natural Science on Experimental Physics in the University of Cologne (Germany) in 1995. He was a postdoctoral researcher in the Institute for Inorganic Chemistry in Bonn before joining FEI in 2000 as an application specialist. During his time at FEI his role has changed from product to
marketing manager for the entire high-end TEM research market served by the Titan platform. Today he works as Director Technology in the Materials Science BU.

is an award-winning director, producer, and cinematographer. After graduating in Physics at Genoa University and at Oxford University, he apprenticed under Abbas Kiarostami and Marco Bellocchio. His theatre shows have been performed worldwide – from the Piccolo in Milan to the Edinburgh Fringe, from the Oxford Playhouse to the Teatro Stabile in Genoa. Amongst these are the national premières for Italy of the science plays “QED” by Peter Parnell and “Breaking the code” by Hugh Whitemore, about Feynman and Turing respectively, both of which were translated by him. He has won prizes as a director, as a cinematographer, as a video artist, as a screenwriter, including accolades from the Italian Academy of Arts in Rome (Accademia Nazionale di San Luca) and from several film festivals (Berlinale Talents, Venice Biennale Cinema, et al.). For two years he was also full-time producer-director for the Italian Council for the Physics of Matter (INFM), responsible for the media output in its entirety – comprising short documentaries and promos for the public understanding of science. He has lectured on directing at Sapienza, University of Rome and at Middlebury College (VT, USA).

is a communication specialist with experience in inter- and intra-institutional communications, media and PR, international relations, public affairs, event planning and management, as well as social media and Web content management. She provides high-quality communication services, helping to reach your target audiences, whether local or global, whether comprising specialists or the general public. A strategic thinker with sophisticated leadership skills. Committed and passionate, driven to achieve high standards. She acts or has acted as a consultant for several institutions, including Sapienza – University of Rome, Coventry University, the Auditorium in Rome (Musica per Roma), Sapienza Innovazione, Promoter SrL, Codice Idee per la Cultura, Wikimedia Italia and QED F&S Productions.


Electron microscopy allows scientists to measure and image material properties down to the very atomic scale, bringing to fruition Feynman’s visionary idea that saw in the electron microscope the main instrument for nanoscience. However, its development has been restricted for many years to improving spatial and energetic resolution, through the adoption of bulky sets of magnetic lenses and multipoles. This approach has begun to feel limiting – since cross-fertilisation with light optics has shown the many possibilities hidden in the newly-acquired capacity to perform electron beam shaping. 

In the course of the Q-SORT FET project, we devised and perfected various different techniques to shape electron beams. In particular, Q-SORT pioneered an innovative approach to electron beam shaping based on MEMS technology and complex analogue control of the device. These exciting developments are driving electron microscopy into a new era, which is notable for the newly-acquired capacity to extract novel quantities of interest from the sample, and to better characterise samples which are often too fragile for present-day techniques.

One of the many results we obtained in Q-SORT is the capability to manufacture and operate a spiral phase plate (SPP) for electrons, based on the so-called “chopsticks” design. This is an extremely useful device of the widest applicability, since it produces contrast enhancement (edge enhancement) in sample images – a potentially game-changing feature for weak-phase samples, such as organic tissues & molecules. SPPs can also be used to produce arbitrary vortex beams and Bessel beams, both of which can be useful as advanced probes – e.g. as a tool for EMCD (electron magnetic circular dichroism) or for all experiments making use of vortex beams. Q-SORT scientists were the first in the world to produce working electron SPPs. Although we could manufacture electron SPPs (eSPPs) as holograms etched in a substrate, the object of MINEON is a spiral phase plate based on electrostatic fields. This as well was built during Q-SORT as a prototype. Compared to the semiconductor version, the eSPP has the advantage of producing no attenuation of the electron beam and of being tuneable. These two characteristics make it the ideal method for generating vortex beams.


Miniaturised tuneable electron-optical spiral phase plates

MINEON is an innovative solution for phase plates in electron microscopy. The miniature spiral phase plates are fabricated as part of a custom chip, which is mounted in special biased aperture holders. These special holders can be placed in the Condenser Aperture, or in the Selected Area Aperture, or in various Objective Apertures.

MINEON spiral phase plates are tuneable, flexible in their applications, easy to use.
Thanks to advanced MEMS fabrication technology, MINEON phase plates can be easily replaced and upgraded.

Installation kit:

  • Special aperture holder for Thermofisher microscopes
  • 5 x MEMS spiral phase plate devices
  • Ready-to-use dedicated drive electronics
  • User-friendly control software

Consumable pack:

  • 10 x MEMS spiral phase plate devices

For further information, don’t hesitate to write to


01-03 September 2021

MINEON project held its first International Conference

On 1-2  September 2021 the CNR-NANO institute in Modena will host the International Conference on SCIENCE AND APPLICATIONS OF COHERENT ELECTRON BEAM MANIPULATION (http://www.qsort.eu/2021-q-sort-conference/, https://www.smartelectron.eu/events-smart-electron/).

This conference, jointly organised by the Q-SORT, 3D MAGiC, SMART-electron, Holo Workshop, MINEON projects, explores coherent electron-beam manipulation from different, complementary perspectives.

Any COVID-19 restriction at the time of the conference will be dealt with by holding all of the talks online.

Concepts such as electron coherence, electron phase control & holography, characterisation of magnetic phase, light-electron interaction, phase plates for imaging or for beam shaping, are all at the forefront of electron microscopy research. Moreover, they are also of interest outside the microscopy field.

In this joint event, we will explore some of these themes together: cross-fertilisation and topic contiguity will stimulate discussions and new ideas. The conference also aims to facilitate networking, fostering an even larger community. The different reference communities of the four organising projects will have the chance to speak to each other.

The themes at the centre of this conference affect the design of electron-based measurement instruments such as the electron microscope and in general of all electron optics. Not only can we measure the electron phase and through it the electric and magnetic fields, but we can also control it, tune the phase of light waves interacting with the electron beam, as well as the kind of electron interaction with the sample — all of this while controlling the state (e.g. the magnetisation) of the sample itself.

The conference is structured around three sessions, pertaining to Q-SORT & SMART-electron, 3D MAGiC, and Holo respectively.

The Q-SORT + SMART-electron session will regard topics such as electron beam shaping, its applications in spectroscopies, electron light interaction, and time-resolved phase-coherent experiments.

The 3D MAGiC session will focus more on the new ideas of control and measurement of surprising magnetic states with unconventional and advanced magnetic field control.

The Holo session will regard the more general field of holography, with emphasis on new ideas for measuring fields, measuring coherence, reconstructing the electron phase, improving the SNR through phase shifting or stack acquisition, and their applications in material science.




MINEON project held its Kick-off Meeting.

On 8 June 2021 the CNR-NANO institute in Modena hosted the MINEON Kick-off Meeting for the official launch and first-ever public presentation of the MINEON Project. Funded by the European Commission under its highly competitive Future and Emerging Technologies Programme (FET) – Innovation Launchpad, the project will run for 8 months starting on 1 June 2021.

The Kick-off event – which is organised by CNR – NANO and supported by QED – brought together leading institutions in the field of electron microscopy and quantum light optics, i.e. CNR-NANO (Project coordinator), the Forschungszentrum Jülich, Thermo Fisher Scientific.

MINEON, whose full name is MINiaturised Electron Optics for Nano-controlled beams, was conceived as a continuation of another successful FET project, called Q-SORT (www.qsort.eu).

During the course of Q-SORT, scientists devised an innovative approach to electron beam shaping based on MEMS technology and complex analogue control of the set-up. MINEON will further validate the design of a MEMS-based spiral phase plate (SPP), based on the above approach.

The spiral phase plate, which MINEON will realise for the first time, is predicted to improve the electron-microscope imaging of a vast class of systems, and in particular of biological samples, which are of crucial importance in the field of medicine. Indeed, the fact that these systems are made of light atoms normally causes them to yield low or non-existent contrast. The SPP addresses this problem.

The project -which includes applications to physics, biology, and biochemistry- is expected to have a wide-ranging impact due to the ubiquitous adoption of transmission electron microscopy across many disciplines. Moreover, the MINEON Consortium includes a world-leading company in the electron microscopy sector, FEI – ThermoFisher.

The scientific coordinator and principal investigator of MINEON is Vincenzo Grillo, a senior research fellow at CNR -the Italian National Research Council-, recipient of the prestigious Humboldt Foundation’s Bessel Research Award for his work on beam shaping and scientific coordinator of the project Q-SORT.

The MINEON consortium comprises the following European institutions:

CNR-NANO (Coordinator) – (Italy)

QED Film & Stage Productions Ltd. – (United Kingdom)

FEI – Thermo Fisher Scientific – (Netherlands)

Forschungszentrum Jülich – (Germany)


Project Coordinator
Vincenzo Grillo

Via Campi 213/A
41125 Modena — Italy

Communication Manager
Luca Marco Carlo Giberti

Executive Manager
Raffaella Santucci

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Funded by the EU — MINEON has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement No 101035013| FETOPEN-03-2018-2019-2020 – FET Innovation Launchpad The European Commission is the executive body of the European Union. Its tasks include implementing decisions and managing the day-to-day business of the EU (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Commission), as well as the implementation of the EU budget.

As part of its remit, the EC directly funds trans-national scientific research projects through dedicated calls for entries, such as those of the FET Programme. We would like to thank the European Union for making MINEON possible. We recognise its important function in promoting the advancement of knowledge and in helping to establish fruitful international long-term relationships involving institutions and companies. We believe that these efforts help us all to better understand and appreciate our cultural diversity.