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Most powerful group of microscopes in the world

11.12.2007
Seven new super-microscopes and a specially designed building will give scientists at DTU unique opportunities to design new materials. Among the areas that will benefit are the environment, manufacturing, energy and transport.

The most powerful group of microscopes in the world was inaugurated friday by ship-owner Mr Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller. DTU’s Center for Electron Nanoscopy (DTU CEN) owes its creation to a large donation from the A.P. Møller and Chastine Mc-Kinney Møller Foundation for General Purposes.

“It is unique to be able both to build an ambitious centre and to equip it with the absolute best in electron microscopy technology at the same time. This raises Danish experimental facilities for research into materials and nanotechnology to world class. It will have a major influence on nanoscience all over the world,” says Lars Pallesen, Rector of DTU.

One of the total of seven new microscopes is the almost four-metre-high ‘Environmental Transmission Electron Microscope’, developed in association with DTU by world-leading microscope manufacturer FEI Company. It is the most powerful of its type in the world.

“With this newly developed microscope, we will be able to see atomic-level details, in the future also in 3D. The magnification is so great that a human hair would appear as broard as a soccer field.

“We expect to be able to observe with a resolution of 0.07 nanometres – half the size of a carbon atom,” says Dr Rafal E. Dunin-Borkowski, Director of DTU CEN.

According to Dr Dunin-Borkowski, this will be a giant step forward, for example in the field of materials research, with scientists being able to see what happens to individual atoms when they make changes in materials and give them new properties.

“That applies to aluminium and magnesium alloys, building materials, and more. These are new materials able to change the course of society in areas such as communication, energy, transport and electronics,” adds Dr Dunin-Borkowski.

Special building to protect delicate apparatus
DTU’s microscopes are special because they will be the first commercial microscopes allowing 100 per cent compensation for errors in the electromagnetic lenses.

The lenses cannot be made error-free, and therefore the great challenge was error-correction. In collaboration with FEI Company, this has been successfully achieved. Measurements already show that the combination of the new microscopes and the new building has created the best microscopy facility in the world.

“As the global leader in ultra-high resolution and innovative solutions for electron microscopy, we have been working closely with our partners at DTU," says Don Kania, CEO & President of FEI Company. "Our ability to collaborate with customers, delivering the most advanced electron microscopes coupled with proven applications expertise, has demonstrated itself with great success in the realization of DTU CEN”.

The large donation from the Foundation made possible not only the creation of DTU CEN, but also the construction of a very special building to protect the microscopes from vibration, fluctuations in temperature, and electromagnetic noise.

Even the smallest vibration would blur the image when working with very high resolutions. The temperature within the building must not vary by more than a tenth of a degree, otherwise it could cause the microscope itself to expand or contract. And electromagnetic fields would interfere with the microscopes’ technology.

Michael Strangholt | alfa
Further information:
http://www.dtu.dk

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