Academic journal article Science Scope

High-Resolution Electron Microscope

Academic journal article Science Scope

High-Resolution Electron Microscope

Article excerpt

Researchers at the University of Sheffield have revolutionized the electron microscope by developing a new method that could create the highest-resolution images ever seen. For over 70 years, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), which looks through an object to see atomic features within it, has been constrained by the relatively poor lenses that are used to form the image. The new method, called electron ptychography, dispenses with the lens and instead forms the image by reconstructing the scattered electron-waves after they have passed through the sample using computers.

Scientists involved in this breakthrough consider their findings to be a first step in a completely new epoch of electron imaging. The process has no fundamental experimental boundaries, and it is thought it will transform subatomic scale transmission imaging. Project leader John Rodenburg, of the University of Sheffield's Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, said: "To understand how material behaves, we need to know exactly where the atoms are. This approach will enable us to look at how atoms sit next to one another in a solid object as if we're holding them in our hands. We've shown we can improve upon the resolution limit of an electron lens by a factor of 5. An extension of the same method should reach the highest-resolution transmission image ever obtained; about one-tenth of an atomic diameter. No longer does TEM have to be bound by the paradigm of the lens, its Achilles' heel since its invention in 1933. …

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