Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists revolutionize electron microscope: New method could create highest resolution images ever

Date:
March 6, 2012
Source:
University of Sheffield
Summary:
Researchers have revolutionized the electron microscope by developing a new method which could create the highest resolution images ever seen.

Living plant cells seen without dying.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Sheffield

Researchers at the University of Sheffield have revolutionised the electron microscope by developing a new method which 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 which 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 the scheme 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 sub-atomic scale transmission imaging.

Project leader Professor 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 five. 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."

The technique is applicable to microscopes using any type of wave and has other key advantages over conventional methods. For example, when used with visible light, the new technology forms a type of image that means scientists can see living cells very clearly without the need to stain them, a process which usually kills the cells.

The new method also disposes of the need to put a lens very close to a living sample, meaning that cells can be seen through thick containers like petri dishes or flasks. This means that as they develop and grow over days or weeks, they do not have to be disturbed.

Plans are even being put into place with the European Space Agency to take the new, more robust, microscope technology to the moon in 2018 to examine the structure of moon soil.

Professor Rodenburg added: "We measure diffraction patterns rather than images. What we record is equivalent to the strength of the electron, X-ray or light waves which have been scattered by the object -- this is called their intensity. However, to make an image, we need to know when the peaks and troughs of the waves arrive at the detector -- this is called their phase.

"The key breakthrough has been to develop a way to calculate the phase of the waves from their intensity alone. Once we have this, we can work out backwards what the waves were scattered from: that is, we can form an aberration-free image of the object, which is much better than can be achieved with a normal lens.

"A typical electron or X-ray microscope image is about one hundred times more blurred than the theoretical limit defined by the wavelength. In this project, the eventual aim is to get the best-ever pictures of individual atoms in any structure seen within a three-dimensional object."

The ground-breaking results were part of a three-year study costing £4.3 million which was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The investigation was carried out with the help of Phase Focus Ltd, a University of Sheffield spin-out company, and Gatan Inc.

Ptychographic electron microscopy using high-angle dark-field scattering for sub-nanometre resolution imaging was published in Nature Communications on March 6, 2012.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Sheffield. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M.J. Humphry, B. Kraus, A.C. Hurst, A.M. Maiden, J.M. Rodenburg. Ptychographic electron microscopy using high-angle dark-field scattering for sub-nanometre resolution imaging. Nature Communications, 2012; 3: 730 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1733

Cite This Page:

University of Sheffield. "Scientists revolutionize electron microscope: New method could create highest resolution images ever." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 March 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120306131856.htm>.
University of Sheffield. (2012, March 6). Scientists revolutionize electron microscope: New method could create highest resolution images ever. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120306131856.htm
University of Sheffield. "Scientists revolutionize electron microscope: New method could create highest resolution images ever." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120306131856.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Thanks, Marty McFly! Hoverboards Could Be Coming In 2015

Thanks, Marty McFly! Hoverboards Could Be Coming In 2015

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) — If you've ever watched "Back to the Future Part II" and wanted to get your hands on a hoverboard, well, you might soon be in luck. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robots to Fly Planes Where Humans Can't

Robots to Fly Planes Where Humans Can't

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) — Researchers in South Korea are developing a robotic pilot that could potentially replace humans in the cockpit. Unlike drones and autopilot programs which are configured for specific aircraft, the robots' humanoid design will allow it to fly any type of plane with no additional sensors. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Graphene Paint Offers Rust-Free Future

Graphene Paint Offers Rust-Free Future

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) — British scientists have developed a prototype graphene paint that can make coatings which are resistant to liquids, gases, and chemicals. The team says the paint could have a variety of uses, from stopping ships rusting to keeping food fresher for longer. Jim Drury reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
China Airlines Swanky New Plane

China Airlines Swanky New Plane

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) — China Airlines debuted their new Boeing 777, and it's more like a swanky hotel bar than an airplane. Enjoy high-tea, a coffee bar, and a full service bar with cocktails and spirits, and lie-flat in your reclining seats. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins