Credit: DEM

Brno’s Days of Electron Microscopy Return Next Week

Medicine, materials research, criminology, archeology, and the aviation industry are just some of the fields which today depend on electron microscope technology, which allows us to explore the invisible world around us and within ourselves. Brno is the world capital of development and production of electron microscopes, with one third of devices globally manufactured in the Moravian capital. The Days of Electron Microscopy, taking place next week from 18-24 March, allow the public to get acquainted with the technology that is a significant source of local pride.

“Brno is a city of science, research and innovation, and is also a city of cooperation,” said Brno Mayor Markéta Vaňková. “Thanks to the cooperation of companies from the field of electron microscopy, the academic sector, scientific popularisation institutions and the public sphere, a completely unique event has been taking place here for several years. Its contribution is enormous – it popularises science, supports interest in the study of technical and natural sciences, and represents a very promising field and the technological potential of our city.” 

The event will be inaugurated by the Czech Minister of Science, Research and Innovation, Helena Langšádlová, at the Institute of Technical Instruments of the Czech Academy of Sciences, which is the cradle of electron microscopy in Brno. Back in the 1950s, a number of different types of electron microscopes were developed and manufactured at the institute, and produced at the national company Tesla Brno. After 1989, several companies were founded in Brno, mostly by former employees of the institute, focused on the development and production of electron microscopes or their parts. 

Today, there are three large and important companies in Brno producing highly complex technological devices with high added value, which continue to cooperate closely with the Institute of Technical Instruments. “I am very happy about this development, because I have myself been involved in the development of electron-optical parts for electron microscopes all my life,” said Ilona Müllerová, vice-president of the Czech Academy of Sciences and former director of the Institute of Technical Instruments.

“I am very happy to be participating in the Days of Electron Microscopy again this year,” said Langšádlová. “The fact that the Czech Republic is a world leader in the development and production of electron microscopes is a clear indication of the high potential to conquer the world market through the production of highly needed technologies. The global successes of the Brno centres for the production of electron microscopes, which have application across various fields, are an example of high-quality valorization of science. The development of electron microscopy is key to semiconductor technology research.”

The symbol of this year’s event is a giant inflatable model of a mite, which will tour the streets of Brno ahead of the festival to promote it. Each person hosts hundreds of thousands of such creatures at any given moment. Despite this, they are easily overlooked in the real world, but are brought to life in the world of electron microscopy. For this reason, even though they are viewed as villains, they will be the symbolic heroes of the Days of Electron Microscopy.

“This year’s Days of Electron Microscopy are focused on the invisible villains,” said Anna Putnová, the City of Brno’s representative for innovation and cooperation with research organisations. “Whether they harm plants, animals or people, we have no chance to study them without electron microscopes. This year’s program includes lectures, workshops, exhibitions and excursions to normally inaccessible laboratories. There will also be competitions and activities for families with children.”

The Days of Electron Microscopy were first organised in 2017 by employees of the City of Brno,  and since 2023 the main guarantor of the program has been the Brno Observatory and Planetarium. However, the long history of electron microscopy in Brno began back in 1947, when the first two electron microscopes were delivered to Czechoslovakia as part of post-war aid.

Over 20 local partners are involved in the event, including local manufacturers of electron microscopes and accessories (Thermo Fisher Scientific, Tescan, Delong Instruments), research and academic centres (CEITEC, the Institutes of Botany and Technical Instruments of the Czech Academy of Sciences, the Research Institute of Veterinary Medicine), educational institutes (Biskupske Gymnázium, the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of the Brno University of Technology, the Faculty of Science of Masaryk University), and other institutes (the Czechoslovak Microscopic Society, VIDA! science centre, Brno Technical Museum). Other partners include Galerie Vaňkovka, the City of Brno, and the South Moravian Regional Office.
The week-long programme will feature exhibitions, popular science lectures, online screenings of the Nanokam program, and open days at companies, among other things. More detailed information about the programme is available on the event website.

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