UEMtomaton: A Source-Available Platform to Aid in Start-up of Ultrafast Electron Microscopy Labs

Daniel X. Du, Spencer A Reisbick, David J. Flannigan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The steady rise in the number of ultrafast electron microscopy (UEM) labs, in addition to the opacity and lack of detailed descriptions of current approaches that would enable point-by-point construction, has created an opportunity for sharing common methods and instrumentation for (for example) automating data acquisition to assist in efficient lab start-up and to learn about common and robust protocols. In the spirit of open sharing of methods, we provide here a description of an entry-level method and user interface (UI) for automating UEM experiments, and we provide access to the source code and scripts (source-available) for ease of implementation or as a starting reference point for those entering or seeking to enter the field (https://github.com/CEMSFlannigan/UEMtomaton/releases/tag/v1.0). Core instrumentation and physical connections in the UEM lab at Minnesota are described. Interface communication schemes consisting of duo server-client pairs between critical components – the optical delay stage and the UEM digital camera – are presented, with emphasis placed on describing the logic and communications sequence designed to conduct automated series acquisitions. An application designed and programmed with C++/CLI as Windows Forms in Microsoft Visual Studio – dubbed UEMtomaton – is also presented. Key to the UI layout is centralization of the automation tasks and establishment of communication within the software rather than by interfacing with each individual workstation. It is our hope that this note provides useful insight for current and future UEM researchers, particularly with respect to generalizability and portability of the approach to emerging labs. We note that while this basic, entry-level approach is certainly not the most sophisticated or comprehensive of those currently in use, we feel there is nevertheless value in clearly communicating a proven straightforward method to hopefully lower the barrier to entry into the field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113235
StatePublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This material is based on work supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences under Award No. DE-SC0018204. We thank Ben Miller and Bernhard Schaffer for the information regarding image listeners in DM scripting.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.


  • Automation
  • Femtosecond
  • Pump/probe
  • Source-available

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.


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