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The Lead

Promising x-ray microscope poses technical challenges

May 1, 2015 10:08 am | by Breanna Bishop, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

You may think the aisles in your neighborhood convenience store are crowded, but they’d look positively spacious compared to the passageways in the NIF target bay. The target bay bristles with dozens of instruments needed for NIF experiments, ranging from inserters that hold NIF targets in place to cameras and other diagnostics that record the results of NIF shots.

The trillion-frame-per-second camera

April 29, 2015 1:58 pm | by The Optical Society | News | Comments

hen a crystal lattice is excited by a laser pulse, waves of jostling atoms can travel through...

Unique microscopic images provide new insights into ionic liquids

April 28, 2015 11:47 am | by Kiel University | News | Comments

To directly observe chemical processes in unusual, new materials is a scientific dream, made...

Upside down and inside out

April 27, 2015 12:53 pm | by University of Cambridge | News | Comments

Researchers have captured the first 3-D video of a living algal embryo turning itself inside out...

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A microplasma is created by focusing intense laser pulses in air. Besides visible light, the microplasma emits electromagnetic pulses at terahertz frequencies that can be used to detect complex molecules, such as explosives and drugs. Courtesy of J. Adam

Generating broadband terahertz radiation from a microplasma in air

April 27, 2015 12:32 pm | by University of Rochester | News | Comments

Researchers have shown that a laser-generated microplasma in air can be used as a source of broadband terahertz radiation. They demonstrate that an approach for generating terahertz waves using intense laser pulses in air—first pioneered in 1993—can be done with much lower power lasers, a major challenge until now.

Northwestern scientists develop first liquid nanolaser

April 27, 2015 12:12 pm | by Megan Fellman, Northwestern University | News | Comments

Northwestern University scientists have developed the first liquid nanoscale laser. And it’s tunable in real time, meaning you can quickly and simply produce different colors, a unique and useful feature. The laser technology could lead to practical applications, such as a new form of a “lab on a chip” for medical diagnostics.

Under certain conditions, two individual, indistinguishable photons will form a pair as a result of interference. This subtle quantum effect has been successfully imaged for the first time by Michał Jachura and Radosław Chrapkiewicz, doctoral students at

Quantum ‘paparazzi’ film photons in the act of pairing up

April 23, 2015 11:34 am | by University of Warsaw | News | Comments

In the quantum world of light, being distinguishable means staying lonely. Only those photons that are indistinguishable can wind up in a pair, through what is called Hong-Ou-Mandel interference. This subtle quantum effect has been successfully imaged for the first time by two doctoral students from the Faculty of Physics at the University of Warsaw.

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Nondestructive 3-D imaging of biological cells with sound

April 23, 2015 8:28 am | by American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

Much like magnetic resonance imaging is able to scan the interior of the human body, the emerging technique of "picosecond ultrasonics," a type of acoustic imaging, can be used to make virtual slices of biological tissues without destroying them. Now, a team of researchers in Japan and Thailand has shown that picosecond ultrasonics can achieve micron resolution of single cells, imaging their interiors in slices separated by 150 nm.

Scientists watch living taste cells in action

April 22, 2015 10:08 am | by Australian National Univ. | News | Comments

Scientists have, for the first time, captured live images of the process of taste sensation on the tongue. The international team imaged single cells on the tongue of a mouse with a specially designed microscope system.

Solidifying Image Acquisition

April 16, 2015 2:53 pm | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Articles | Comments

Image analysis is of growing importance in science, and trends are observed for different layers of image acquisition. Quantifiable and reproducible data is a prerequisite for scientific publications. And, today, it isn’t sufficient to just acquire aesthetically pleasing images with a microscope. To get powerful scientific results, scientists must get as much information as they can from an image.

Why skin is resistant to tearing

April 14, 2015 8:21 am | by Ioana Patringenaru, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Skin is remarkably resistant to tearing and a team of researchers from the Univ. of California, San Diego and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory now have shown why. Using powerful x-ray beams and electron microscopy, researchers made the first direct observations of the micro-scale mechanisms that allow skin to resist tearing.

Erupting electrodes

April 10, 2015 8:49 am | by Mary Beckman, PNNL | Videos | Comments

An eruption of lithium at the tip of a battery's electrode, cracks in the electrode's body and a coat forming on the electrode's surface reveal how recharging a battery many times leads to its demise. Using a powerful microscope to watch multiple cycles of charging and discharging under real battery conditions, researchers have gained insight into the chemistry that clogs rechargeable lithium batteries.

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Optical method for producing high-res, 3-D images of nanoscale objects

April 8, 2015 8:07 am | by Bjorn Carey, Stanford Univ. | Videos | Comments

To design the next generation of optical devices, ranging from efficient solar panels to LEDs to optical transistors, engineers will need a 3-D image depicting how light interacts with these objects on the nanoscale. Unfortunately, the physics of light has thrown up a roadblock in traditional imaging techniques: The smaller the object, the lower the image's resolution in 3-D.

Evolutionary relic

April 2, 2015 3:56 pm | by Bonnie Prescott, Harvard Univ. | News | Comments

Pseudogenes, a subclass of long noncoding RNA  that developed from the human genome’s 20,000 protein-coding genes but has lost the ability to produce proteins, have long been considered nothing more than genomic junk.

Multi-scale Fractal-based Methods for Useful Characterizations of Surface Topographies

March 30, 2015 12:05 pm | by Christopher Brown, Surface Metrology Lab, Worcester Polytechnic Institute | Articles | Comments

Geometrically, fractals have forms, or features, that repeat at different sizes over ranges of scales. These features can repeat exactly, such as the triangles that repeat with scale on a Koch snowflake or Minkowski sausage. Or, these features might repeat statistically, as on ground or abraded surfaces, where these repeating features create self-similar patterns of scratches or over a range of scales.

Sewage could be a source of valuable metals, critical elements

March 23, 2015 8:42 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Poop could be a goldmine, literally. Surprisingly, treated solid waste contains gold, silver and other metals, as well as rare elements such as palladium and vanadium that are used in electronics and alloys. Now researchers are looking at identifying the metals that are getting flushed and how they can be recovered. This could decrease the need for mining and reduce the unwanted release of metals into the environment.

Sharper nanoscopy

March 19, 2015 2:16 pm | by Phillip Schewe, Joint Quantum Institute | News | Comments

The 2014 chemistry Nobel Prize recognized important microscopy research that enabled greatly improved spatial resolution. This innovation, resulting in nanometer resolution, was made possible by making the emitter of the illumination quite small and by moving it quite close to the object being imaged. One problem with this approach is in such proximity, the emitter and object can interact with each other, blurring the resulting image.

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Study helps understand why a material’s behavior changes as it gets smaller

March 11, 2015 9:30 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

To fully understand how nanomaterials behave, one must also understand the atomic-scale deformation mechanisms that determine their structure and, therefore, their strength and function. Researchers have engineered a new way to observe and study these mechanisms and, in doing so, have revealed an interesting phenomenon in a well-known material, tungsten.

Microscopy directly images problematic lithium dendrites in batteries

March 6, 2015 10:56 am | by Morgan McCorkle, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have captured the first real-time nanoscale images of lithium dendrite structures known to degrade lithium-ion batteries. The ORNL team’s electron microscopy could help researchers address long-standing issues related to battery performance and safety.

First detailed microscopy evidence of bacteria at the lower size limit of life

March 2, 2015 8:08 am | by Dan Krotz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists have captured the first detailed microscopy images of ultra-small bacteria that are believed to be about as small as life can get. The existence of ultra-small bacteria has been debated for two decades, but there hasn’t been a comprehensive electron microscopy and DNA-based description of the microbes until now.

X-ray microscope for nanoscale imaging

February 26, 2015 8:29 am | by Chelsea Whyte, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

Delivering the capability to image nanostructures and chemical reactions down to nanometer resolution requires a new class of x-ray microscope that can perform precision microscopy experiments using ultra-bright x-rays from the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II) at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Voltage tester for beating cardiac cells

February 18, 2015 9:36 am | by ETH Zurich | News | Comments

Electrical impulses play an important role in cells of the human body. For example, neurons use these impulses to transmit information along their branches and the body also uses them to control the contraction of muscles. The impulses are generated when special channel proteins open in the outer envelope of the cells, allowing charged molecules (ions) to enter or exit the cell. These proteins are referred to as ion channels.

Superior Resolution for the Biological World

February 13, 2015 12:47 pm | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Articles | Comments

Traditional fluorescence microscopy has suffered from the resolution limits imposed by diffraction and the finite wavelength of light. Classical resolution is typically limited to about 200 nm in xy. Due to the nanoscale architecture of many biological structures, researchers developed super-resolution techniques, starting in the 1990s, to overcome this classical resolution limit in light microscopy.

Researchers glimpse distortions in atomic structure of materials

February 13, 2015 10:10 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. are using a technique they developed to observe minute distortions in the atomic structure of complex materials, shedding light on what causes these distortions and opening the door to studies on how such atomic-scale variations can influence a material's properties.

Nanoscale solution to big problem of overheating in microelectronic devices

February 6, 2015 10:01 am | by Megan Hazle, Univ. of Southern California | News | Comments

Anyone who has ever toasted the top of their legs with their laptop or broiled their ear on a cell phone knows that microelectronic devices can give off a lot of heat. These devices contain a multitude of transistors, and although each one produces very little heat individually, their combined thermal output is significant and can damage the device.

Microscopy technique allows mapping protein synthesis in living tissues, animals

February 4, 2015 3:06 pm | by Jessica Guenzel, Columbia Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers at Columbia Univ. have made a significant step toward visualizing complex protein metabolism in living systems with high resolution and minimum disturbance, a longstanding goal in the scientific community. In a recent study, the research team has reported a light microscopy method to image where the new proteins are produced and where the old proteins are degraded inside living tissues and animals.

Spiky “hedgehog particles” for safer paints, fewer VOC emissions

January 29, 2015 8:28 am | by Gabe Cherry, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

A new process that can sprout microscopic spikes on nearly any type of particle may lead to more environmentally friendly paints and a variety of other innovations. Made by a team of Univ. of Michigan engineers, the "hedgehog particles" are named for their bushy appearance under the microscope.

Visualizing interacting electrons in a molecule

January 26, 2015 10:48 am | by Peter Liljeroth, Aalto Univ. | News | Comments

Understanding this electronic effect in organic molecules is crucial for their use in optoelectronic applications. In their article published in Nature Physics, the research team demonstrates measurements on the organic molecule cobalt phthalocyanine (CoPC) that can be explained only by taking into consideration how electrons in the molecule interact with each other.

New laser could upgrade the images in tomorrow’s technology

January 20, 2015 7:23 am | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

A new semiconductor laser developed at Yale Univ. has the potential to significantly improve the imaging quality of the next generation of high-tech microscopes, laser projectors, photo lithography, holography and biomedical imaging. Based on a chaotic cavity laser, the technology combines the brightness of traditional lasers with the lower image corruption of light-emitting diodes.

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