Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Microscopic X-ray view

X-ray microscopy technique makes fluctuations inside of materials visible

X-ray microscopy requires radiation of extremely high quality. In order to obtain sharp images instrument and sample must stay absolutely immobile even at the nanometer scale during the recording.

Experimental setup: The test object is moved with nanometer precision through the X-ray beam. The scattered X-rays are captured by a detector. The scattering images are then reconstructed to an image of the sample.

Researchers at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen and the Paul Scherrer Institute in Villigen (Switzerland), have now developed a method that relaxes these hard restrictions. Even fluctuations in the material can be visualized. The renowned journal Nature now reports on their results.

For more than 100 years radiography meant: don’t move! In order to visualize nanostructures such as biological cells, the porous structure of cement or storage fields of magnetic disks, the experimentators had to avoid any kind of vibration of X-ray microscope and sample. In addition, only a small percentage fraction of the incoming X-ray radiation could be used. Using special filters, they had to select exactly the fraction with the right properties – for example, the right wavelength.

Contributions of different wavelengths separated
Pierre Thibault of the Technische Universitaet Muenchen and Andreas Menzel, scientist at the Paul Scherrer Institute (Villigen, Switzerland) have now developed an interpretation method that produces reliable images in spite of vibrations or fluctuations. The method is based on a technique called "ptychography", developed in the 1960s for electron microscopy. Thibault and Menzel’s advancements now make it possible to distinguish effects originating from the contribution of different types of X-ray waves.

Fluctuations visualized
Probably the most significant result of the study is that it gives access to a whole class of objects that previously could hardly be investigated. "We now not only can compensate for the vibrations in the microscope," says Andreas Menzel. "We can even characterize fluctuations of the sample itself, even if they are much too fast to be seen with individual snapshots."

"We needed to convince ourselves that the images we produced did indeed reflect accurately the samples and their dynamics," says Pierre Thibault. "So we carried out computer simulations. They confirmed that effects of the instrument as well as of the sample itself, such as flows, switching events or mixed quantum states, can be characterized."

Microscopic view inside
The new method combines the characterization of dynamical states with high-resolution X-ray microscopy. One possible application is to analyze the changing magnetization of individual bits in magnetic storage media with high storage density. The interactions of such single magnetic bits or their thermal fluctuations, which ultimately determine the lifetime of magnetic data storage, could be visualized.

"In addition to its use in imaging," explains Pierre Thibault, "our analysis method also reveals a fundamental relationship to other disciplines: Microscopy and scientific disciplines such as quantum computing, previously regarded as independent, can benefit from each other here."

Reconstructing state mixtures from diffraction measurements; Pierre Thibault & Andreas Menzel

Nature, 7. February 2013, DOI: 10.1038/nature11806


Dr. Pierre Thibault

Technische Universität München

Physik-Department, Lehrstuhl für Angewandte Biophysik (E 17)
85747 Garching, Germany
Tel.: +49 89 289 14397

Andreas Battenberg | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Microscopic Battle X-ray microscopy computer simulation

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht New method will enable most accurate neutron measurement yet
02.10.2015 | Paul Scherrer Institut (PSI)

nachricht An easier way to operate and program multitasking machines
30.09.2015 | Siemens AG

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New Sinumerik features improve productivity and precision

EMO 2015, Hall 3, Booth E06/F03

  • Drive optimization called automatically by the part program boosts productivity
  • Automatically switching the dynamic values to rapid traverse and interpolation...

Im Focus: LZH presents additive manufacturing at the LABVOLUTION

The Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will present how laser-based technologies can contribute to the laboratory of the future at the LABVOLUTION in Hannover in Hall 9, Stand E67/09, from October 6th to 8th, 2015. As a part of the model lab smartLAB, the LZH is showing how additive manufacturing, better known as 3-D printing, can make experimental setups more flexible.

Twelve partners from science and industry are presenting an intelligent and innovative model lab at the special display smartLAB. A part of this intelligent...

Im Focus: New polymer creates safer fuels

Before embarking on a transcontinental journey, jet airplanes fill up with tens of thousands of gallons of fuel. In the event of a crash, such large quantities of fuel increase the severity of an explosion upon impact.

Researchers at Caltech and JPL have discovered a polymeric fuel additive that can reduce the intensity of postimpact explosions that occur during accidents and...

Im Focus: 3-D printing techniques help surgeons carve new ears

When surgical residents need to practice a complicated procedure to fashion a new ear for children without one, they typically get a bar of soap, carrot or an apple.

To treat children with a missing or under-developed ear, experienced surgeons harvest pieces of rib cartilage from the child and carve them into the framework...

Im Focus: Walk the line

NASA studies physical performance after spaceflight

Walking an obstacle course on Earth is relatively easy. Walking an obstacle course on Earth after being in space for six months is not quite as simple. The...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

EHFG 2015: Securing healthcare and sustainably strengthening healthcare systems

01.10.2015 | Event News

Conference in Brussels: Tracking and Tracing the Smallest Marine Life Forms

30.09.2015 | Event News

World Alzheimer`s Day – Professor Willnow: Clearer Insights into the Development of the Disease

17.09.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Infrared thermography can detect joint inflammation and help improving work ergonomics

02.10.2015 | Medical Engineering

Semiconductor nanoparticles show high luminescence in a polymer matrix

02.10.2015 | Materials Sciences

New Sinumerik features improve productivity and precision

02.10.2015 | Trade Fair News

More VideoLinks >>>