Japan MNC Hitachi has developed a microscope with capacity of highest known resolution based on the transmission of electrons to observe at the atomic level, which may revolutionize the way we see atoms.
The transmission electron microscope (TEM), work on which was started in 2010, was completed this week and has a 43-picometre resolution (a picometre is one-trillionth of a metre and 43 picometres is less than half the radius of most atoms).
The device, which occupies an entire room, was able to achieve this record-breaking resolution thanks to a large concentration of electron emissions through cables and circuits specially designed for this task, said a Hitachi spokesperson.
Other striking features of the microscope are the acoustic lining on its base to reduce the negative impact of vibrations as well as the installation of magnetic barriers around the device.
This reduces the effect of external factors that cause lens aberrations and affect the resolution, the main limitation of such microscopes, according to the company.
Electron microscopes, invented in 1930 by German physicist Ernst Ruska, have a much higher resolution than optical ones due to the use of electrons instead of photons thus allowing scientists to study the structure and composition of atoms in a wide number of materials.
The new device will allow scientists to optically observe atomic positions, which, according to Hitachi, could help them in developing new materials with diverse applications.
HTA already offers a broad range of transmission electron microscopes (TEM) and scanning transmission electron microscopes (STEM) — 120 kV, 200 kV, and 300 kV field-emission gun (FEG) or thermionic emission gun (LaB6 or W) electron microscopes which provide fundamental functions such as atomic resolution imaging, electron diffraction, HAADF-STEM imaging, secondary electron imaging, electron holography, 3-D electron tomography, cryomicroscopy, EDS and EELS for structural and chemical characterizations of nanomaterials, semiconductors, energy technology, polymers, glassy materials, biomolecular mechanisms of disease, 3D-architecture of cells and tissues, viruses and macromolecular complexes.
Cs-corrected STEM (probe corrector) made sub-angstrom resolution imaging achievable. Hitachi in-situ TEM enables real-time atomic-resolution observation of materials under external stimuli.
(With inputs from IANS)