A new imaging technique that uses electron diffraction waves to improve both image resolution and sensitivity to small structures has been developed by scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The technique works on the same principle as X-ray diffraction, but can record structure from a single nanostructure or macromolecule.
Determining the structure of materials -- such as protein crystals -- is currently performed using X-ray diffraction. However, many small structures used in nanotechnology have not been accessible to crystallography, so their structures remain unknown.
"Nature is full of objects that cannot be easily crystallized, including many proteins and nano-sized objects that lack a periodic structure," said Jian-Min (Jim) Zuo, a professor of materials science and engineering at Illinois and corresponding author of a paper to appear in the May 30 issue of the journal Science. "Our technique has the potential to image nonperiodic nanostructures, including biological macromolecules, at atomic resolution."
James E. Kloeppel | UIUC
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