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Thomas Slater

Dr Thomas Slater



School of Chemistry

+44 29208 79966
Translational Research Hub, Floor 3, Room 3.18, Maindy Road, Cathays, Cardiff, CF24 4HQ
Available for postgraduate supervision


I am an electron microscopist with a focus on the characterisation of nanomaterials and heterogeneous catalysts. I use aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy to determine the atomic structure of a wide range of materials systems. Characterising the structure of materials down to the atomic scale allows a much greater understanding of their properties. I am particularly interested in determining the surface structure of materials to understand catalytic properties.

I have a particular interest in the three-dimensional imaging of nanomaterials, determining the 3D structure and elemental distribution within nanoparticles. I also have interests in imaging heterogeneous catalysts during reactions in-situ, and in combining different characterisation techniques with electron microscopy to better understand material properties.

For more information on the electron microscopy facilities within the school of chemistry, see here.














Book sections



My main research focus is the development and use of electron microscopy to characterise and understand catalytic materials. In my group, we primarily use aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy to determine the atomic structure of nanoparticle catalysts. Electron microscopy has seen significant advancements over the past decade and is now an underpinning technique to understand the atomic structure of many material systems. I am particularly interested in the following specific topics in electron microscopy.


3D imaging of nanomaterials

The group develops techniques for the three-dimensional imaging of nanomaterials using electron microscopy. We make use of electron tomography to quantify the size, shape and distribution of nanoparticle catalysts and have active projects to push electron tomography to atomic resolution, enabling us to reveal the location of all atoms in a nanoparticle in 3D. We have a lot of experience in spectroscopic electron tomography, in particular in the use of energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy to map the 3D distribution of elements within nanoparticles.

We are also pursuing the use of novel techniques to understand the 3D structure of nanoparticles. Our research includes the use of single particle reconstruction, a technique mainly used for imaging proteins and viruses, and atom counting from single atomic resolution images.

Example publications

Automated Single-Particle Reconstruction of Heterogeneous Inorganic Nanoparticles - 

Imaging Three-Dimensional Elemental Inhomogeneity in Pt–Ni Nanoparticles Using Spectroscopic Single Particle Reconstruction -

Multiscale correlative tomography: an investigation of creep cavitation in 316 stainless steel - 


Studying reactions in-situ

The group has a particular interest in the use of in-situ systems to enable imaging of heterogeneous catalysts under reaction conditions. In-situ holders for the transmission electron microscope enable imaging of reactions at atmospheric gas pressures and elevated temperatures (over 1000 °C). Use of the systems enables our group to study a variety of catalysts in-situ to understand how they change in terms of size, shape and elemental composition, all of which have a profound effect on their catalytic properties.

Example publications

Real-time imaging and elemental mapping of AgAu nanoparticle transformations -

Real-time imaging and local elemental analysis of nanostructures in liquids - 


Advances in image processing for electron microscopy

In support of the two major strands of my research, I have a keen interest in the development of image processing methodology and its application in electron microscopy. My group have been involved in the development and application of methodology for image segmentation, noise reduction and three-dimensional imaging. I have made contributions (sometimes minor) to widely-used software packages for electron microscopy analysis such as Hyperspy, in addition to developing my own package for segmenting electron microscopy images called ParticleSpy.

Example publications

nNPipe: a neural network pipeline for automated analysis of morphologically diverse catalyst systems -

Trainable segmentation for transmission electron microscope images of inorganic nanoparticles -


I teach on the following modules:

1st year - Foundations of Physical Chemistry (specifically, Thermodynamics)

1st year - Chemistry Foundation Practical (specifically, Introduction to Programming with Python)

4th year / MSc - Applications of Advanced Spectroscopy (specifically, Applications of Electron Microscopy)


MPhys in Physics (2011) at The University of Manchester.

PhD in Electron Microscopy of Nanomaterials (2015) at The University of Manchester, supervised by Sarah Haigh.

Research Associate (2015-2018) at The University of Manchester.

Electron Microscopy Scientist (2018-2022) at the electron Physical Sciences Imaging Centre (ePSIC) at Diamond Light Source.

Appointed Lecturer at Cardiff University (2022).


I am interested in supervising any students with an interest in electron microscopy, particularly applied to heterogeneous catalysts.

Current supervision

Ella Kitching

Ella Kitching

Research student

Oli Mchugh

Oli Mchugh

Research student

Joshua De Boer

Joshua De Boer

Research student

Sana Khalid

Sana Khalid

Research student

Research themes


  • Electron microscopy