Martin Saunders

Associate Professor, BSc PhD Bath

  • The University of Western Australia (M010), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


Calculated based on number of publications stored in Pure and citations from Scopus

Personal profile


I lead the Physical Science Electron Microscopy Platform in the Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis (CMCA), which forms part of the WA node of Microscopy Australia.

Born in Wales, I defected to England to study Physics at the University of Bath where he completed his undergraduate and postgraduate education, obtaining a PhD on the development of quantitative electron diffraction techniques. Post-doc positions at the University of Bristol and with the United States Navy in California saw me expand my research interests to the development and application of broad spectrum of electron microscopy techniques for the structural and chemical analysis of materials and the nano and atomic scales. After a junior academic position in Sweden, I arrived in Australia in 2001 to run UWA’s new Transmission Electron Microscope and never left!

At UWA, I have developed significant collaborations with researchers locally, nationally, and internationally involving the application of advanced electron microscopy techniques to solve diverse problems across the physical, biological, and geo sciences leading to high impact publications in journals such as Nature, Nature Geoscience, Advanced Materials, PNAS, and many others. I am always looking for new challenges and welcomes contact from researchers with interesting problems that require electron microscopy solutions.

In my various roles at UWA’s CMCA over the past 20+ years, I have built extensive experience leading and managing core research infrastructure, until recently overseeing a team of ~20 staff running a ~$40M facility housing UWA’s light, electron, ion and X-ray microscopy and analytical instruments.

I was President of the Australian Microscopy and Microanalysis Society from 2012-2018, having previously spent ten years as the Society’s Newsletter Editor. I have organized several national and international conferences, including the 27th Australian Conference on Microscopy and Microanalysis (ACMM27), which took place in Perth in February 2023.

I was elected a Fellow of the UK Institute of Physics in 2012.

Research interests

I am interested is the development and application of a range of electron microscopy techniques to solve characterisationproblems at the nano and atomic scales. My main focus is on Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) where I have applied imaging, crystallographic and elemental analysis techinques including conventional and Scanning TEM (STEM) imaging, high resolution TEM, selected area electron diffraction (SAED), convergent beam electron diffraction (CBED), electron tomography, energy-dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDS) and electron energy-loss spectroscopy (EELS). I also make use of scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and dualbeam focussed ion beam scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM) for surface and volume imaging and TEM sample preparation.

While a Physicist by training, I now collaborate with groups in the physical, biological and geo sciences to solve problems in everything from nanomaterials to pigeons and minerals to the origins of life on Earth. I am always looking for new collaborators on challenges.

Teaching overview

My primary teaching role at UWA is to to provide training and support to researchers, predominantly post-graduate students, making use of electron microscopy facilities within CMCA. This involves the delivery of short courses and workshops, individual training and ongiong support and mentorship throughout their projects.

I also contribute to undergaduate teaching in units where characterisation techniques, especially electron microscopy, are a core component. I am currently coordinating and delivering a unit in the Masters in Biomedical Engineering program (SCIE5516 Materials Characterisation for Biomedical Engineering and Synthetic Biology) and have previously made significant contributions over many years to UWA's Nanotechnology degree program.

Previous positions

2019-2023: Facility Director, WA node of Microscopy Australia, The University of Western Australia, Australia.

2003-2013 & 2017-2019: Deputy Director, Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis, The University of Western Australia, Australia.

2007-2009: Senior Lecturer, Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis, The University of Western Australia, Australia.

2001-2007: Lecturer, Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis, The University of Western Australia, Australia.

1998-2001: Assistant Professor, Division of Analytical Materials Physics, Dept. of Materials Science, The Ångström Laboratory, Uppsala University, Sweden.

1996-1998: National Research Council Research Associate, Center for Materials Science and Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering, US Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, USA.

1993-1996: Post-Doctoral Research Associate, H. H. Wills Physics Laboratory, University of Bristol, United Kingdom.

1990-1993: Research Associate, School of Physics, University of Bath, United Kingdom.

Funding overview

In my time at UWA I have attracted research funding totaling >$7M from the Australian Research Council (Discovery Projects; Linkage Projects; Linkage International/Materials World Network; Research Networks; Super Science Fellowships), National Health and Medical Research Council (Ideas Grant), Grains Research Development Corporation, US National Science Foundation (Materials World Network), and US National Institute of Health. This has included project funding and involvement in national collaborations such as the Australian Nanotechnology Network.

I have also secured research infrastructure funding totaling ~$11M for 8 grants through the Australian Research Council’s Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) scheme and in excess of $7M through the Australian Government’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS), and $2.3M from a WA State Government Centre of Excellence.

In addition to the grants listed under the ‘Projects’ section, I have been a CI or AI on the following major grants:

S Reddy, A Putnis, K Evans, N Timms, M Quadir, M Saunders, Y Liu, H Yang, Y Estrin, F Xia, A Deditius, L Fisher, M Pearce, M Verrall); Cutting-Edge Electron Backscatter Diffraction for Materials Analysis in WA; ARC LIEF, Grant LE190100176; 2019

R Tilley, P Munroe, L Zhang, X Hao, J Cairney, X Liao, R Zheng, E Pereloma, K Tieu, M Saunders, Q Ma, J Bradby, B Sun, S Lohr; Plasma-focused ion beam for nanoscale characterisation of materials; ARC LIEF, Grant LE170100087; 2017

J Riffle, R Davis (AIs T St Pierre, R Woodward, M Saunders); Materials World Network: Structure-response relations of advanced diagnostic tools; National Science Foundation/Materials World Network, Grant 0909065; 2009-2011

A van Riessen (and others including M Saunders); The Nanoscale Characterisation Centre WA Focussed Ion Beam Nanofabrication and Milling Facility; ARC LIEF, Grant LE0775553; 2007

J Riffle, R Davis (AIs T St Pierre, R Woodward, M Saunders); Materials World Network: Structure-response relations of advanced diagnostic tools; National Science Foundation/Materials World Network, Grant 0602932; 2006-2009

L Filgueira, P Clode, M Saunders; Metal processing by dendritic cells and osteoclasts; National Institute of Health (USA), Grant R01 GM072726-01; 2005-2007

B Griffin (and others including M Saunders); Nanoscale Characterisation Centre (WA); WA State Government Centres of Excellence Program; 2005-2009

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

Education/Academic qualification

Physics, PhD, Quantitative Convergent Beam Electron Diffraction, University of Bath

Award Date: 6 Feb 1994

Applied Physics, BSc, University of Bath

Award Date: 1 Jun 1990

Research expertise keywords

  • Transmission electron microscopy (TEM)
  • Development and application of transmission electron microscopy (TEM) techniques
  • Energy-filtered transmission electron microscopy (EFTEM)
  • Electron energy-loss spectroscopy (EELS)
  • High resolution transmission electron microscopy (TEM)
  • Electron diffraction
  • Scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM)
  • Electron tomography
  • Structural and chemical analysis of nanomaterials
  • Structural and chemical analysis of biominerals


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