Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Potential leap forward in electron microscopy

08.10.2009
MIT electrical engineers have proposed a new scheme that can overcome a critical limitation of high-resolution electron microscopes: they cannot be used to image living cells because the electrons destroy the samples. The researchers suggest using a quantum mechanical measurement technique that allows electrons to sense objects remotely without ever hitting the imaged objects, thus avoiding damage.

Why it matters: A non-invasive electron microscope could shed light on fundamental questions about life and matter, allowing researchers to observe molecules inside a living cell without disturbing them. If successful, such microscopes would surmount what Nobel laureate Dennis Gabor concluded in 1956 was the fundamental limitation of electron microscopy: "The destruction of the object by the exploring agent."

How it works: Traditional electron microscopes use a particle beam of electrons, instead of light, to image specimens. These beams offer extremely high resolution, up to 0.2 to 10 nanometers — 10 to 1,000 times greater than a traditional light microscope.

In contrast, with the new proposed quantum mechanical setup, electrons would not directly strike the object being imaged. Instead, an electron would flow around one of two rings, arranged one above the other. The rings would be close enough together that the electron could hop easily between them. However, if an object (such as a cell) were placed between the rings, it would prevent the electron from hopping, and the electron would be trapped in one ring.

This setup would scan one "pixel" of the specimen at a time, putting them all together to create the full image. Whenever the electron is trapped, the system would know that there is a dark pixel in that spot.

Next steps: Assistant Professor Mehmet Fatih Yanik, senior author of the paper, says he expects the work "will likely ignite experimental efforts around the world for its realization, with perhaps the first prototype appearing in five years or so."

Though technical challenges need to be overcome (such as preventing the charged electron from interacting with other metals in the microscope), Yanik believes that eventually such a microscope could achieve single-nanometer resolution. That level of resolution would allow scientists to view molecules such as enzymes and nucleic acids inside living cells.

Source: "Non-destructive Electron Microscopy and Interaction-free Quantum Measurements," William Putnan and Mehmet Fatih Yanik. Physical Review A — Rapid Communications, October issue.

Jen Hirsch | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mit.edu

Further reports about: electron microscope enzymes living cell living cells nucleic acids

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht NASA's Fermi catches gamma-ray flashes from tropical storms
25.04.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor
24.04.2017 | DGIST (Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology)

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: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA's Fermi catches gamma-ray flashes from tropical storms

25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers invent process to make sustainable rubber, plastics

25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Transfecting cells gently – the LZH presents a GNOME prototype at the Labvolution 2017

25.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>