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TEM Probes Between Atoms

Photonics.com
Oct 2008
HAMILTON, Ontario, Oct. 20, 2008 -- A powerful, $15 million transmission electron microscope (TEM) that has an atomic-level probing capability comparable to the galaxy peering power of the Hubble Space Telescope has been installed in the new Canadian Centre for Electron Microscopy at McMaster University.

The TEM, so powerful it can probe the spaces between atoms, will be used to help produce more efficient lighting and better solar cells, study proteins and drug-delivery materials to target cancers. It will assess atmospheric particulates and help create lighter and stronger automotive materials, more effective cosmetics, and higher density memory storage for faster electronic and telecommunication devices.
FEITitan3.jpg
The FEI Titan3 80-300 transmission electron microscope housed in the Canadian Centre for Electron Microscopy at McMaster University. (Photo: McMaster University)
"We are the first university in the world with a microscope of such a high caliber," said Gianluigi Botton, director of the center, professor of materials science and engineering, and the project's leader. "The resolution of the Titan3 80-300 microscope is remarkable, the equivalent of the Hubble Telescope looking at the atomic level instead of at stars and galaxies. With this microscope we can now easily identify atoms, measure their chemical state and even probe the electrons that bind them together."

Because we are at the very limits of what physics allows us to see, -- "even breathing close to a regular microscope could affect the quality of the results," said Botton -- the new microscope is housed in a stable, specially designed facility able to withstand ultralow vibrations, low noise, and minute temperature fluctuations. Operation of the instrument will also be done from a separate room to ensure results of the highest quality.

Built in the Netherlands by the Hillsboro, Ore.-based FEI Co., the Titan cluster will examine at the nanolevel hundreds of everyday products in order to understand, manipulate and improve their efficiency, said John Preston, director of McMaster's Brockhouse Institute for Materials Research.

Funding for the microscope instrumentation was provided by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Ontario Innovation Trust, the Ministry of Research and Innovation of Ontario and the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, through a partnership with FEI and McMaster University.

For more information, visit: www.eng.mcmaster.ca


GLOSSARY
electron
A charged elementary particle of an atom; the term is most commonly used in reference to the negatively charged particle called a negatron. Its mass at rest is me = 9.109558 x 10-31 kg, its charge is 1.6021917 x 10-19 C, and its spin quantum number is 1/2. Its positive counterpart is called a positron, and possesses the same characteristics, except for the reversal of the charge.
microscope
An instrument consisting essentially of a tube 160 mm long, with an objective lens at the distant end and an eyepiece at the near end. The objective forms a real aerial image of the object in the focal plane of the eyepiece where it is observed by the eye. The overall magnifying power is equal to the linear magnification of the objective multiplied by the magnifying power of the eyepiece. The eyepiece can be replaced by a film to photograph the primary image, or a positive or negative relay...
photonics
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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