At one o'clock in the morning, layers of warm plastic are deposited on the platform of the 3-D printer that sits on scientist Rebecca Erikson's desk. A small plastic housing, designed to fit over the end of a cell phone, begins to take shape. Pulling it from the printer, Erikson quickly pops in a tiny glass bead and checks the magnification.
In recent years, it has become possible to see directly individual atoms using electron microscopy, especially in graphene. Using electron microscopy and computer simulations, an international team has recently shown how an electron beam can move silicon atoms through the graphene lattice without causing damage.
Researchers have developed an optical method that makes individual proteins, such as the proteins characteristic of some cancers, visible. Other methods that achieve this only work if the target biomolecules have first been labeled with fluorescent tags, but this approach is very difficult. By contrast, the new method allows scientists to directly detect the scattered light of individual proteins via their shadows.
As integrated circuits become increasingly miniaturized and the sizes of magnetic components approach nanoscale dimensions, magnetic properties can disappear. Scientists in Japan, with the help of a form of electron microscopy called split-illumination electron holography, have gained important insights into the development of stable, strong nanomagnets by discovering magnetism-amplifying atomic disorder in iron-aluminum alloys.
A record-setting x-ray microscopy experiment may have ushered in a new era for nanoscale imaging. Working at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), a collaboration of researchers used low energy or “soft” x-rays to image structures only 5 nm in size. This resolution, obtained at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source, is the highest ever achieved with x-ray microscopy.
Researchers have shown how to use a new imaging platform to map lipid metabolism in living cells, discovering specifically where cholesterol is stored and pointing toward further studies in obesity, diabetes and longevity. The imaging approach makes it possible to not only quantify the storage of cholesterol, but also the "desaturation" and oxidation of lipids, which may reduce the ability of cells to use insulin.
Accurately examining materials in liquids using electron microscopy is a difficult task for scientists, as electron beams perturb the sample and induce artifacts. Scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Univ. of California, Davis have demonstrated that in in situ liquid experiments, the choice of electron beam energy has a strong effect that goes far beyond merely increasing the concentration of reducing radicals.
On the macroscale, adding fluorine atoms to carbon-based materials makes for water-repellant, non-stick surfaces, such as Teflon. However, on the nanoscale, adding fluorine to graphene vastly increased the friction experienced when sliding against the material. Through a combination of physical experiments and atomistic simulations, a Univ. of Pennsylvania research team has discovered the mechanism behind this surprising finding.
Quality assurance is essential in industrial workflows and the Dortmund-based SGS Institut Fresenius GmbHs, a subsidiary of the SGS Group, undertakes a diverse range of quality assurance tasks in the automotive, aerospace and medical technology sectors. Given that material quality is essential in these sectors, any technologies that can enhance the accuracy, efficiency and ease of material inspection and analysis are welcomed.
One of the most important molecules on Earth, calcium carbonate crystallizes into chalk, shells and minerals the world over. In a study led by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, researchers used a powerful microscope that allows them to see the birth of crystals in real time, giving them a peek at how different calcium carbonate crystals form, they report in Science.
Scientists’ underwater cameras got a boost this summer from the Electron Microscopy Center at Argonne National Laboratory. Along with colleagues at the Univ. of Manchester, researchers captured the world’s first real-time images and simultaneous chemical analysis of nanostructures while “underwater,” or in solution.
Cancerous brain tumors are notorious for growing back despite surgical attempts to remove them, and for leading to a dire prognosis for patients. But scientists are developing a new way to try to root out malignant cells during surgery so fewer or none get left behind to form new tumors. The technology relies on a Raman scanner that can read injected nanoprobes.
Recent experiments have confirmed that a technique developed several years ago at NIST can enable optical microscopes to measure the 3-D shape of objects at nanometer-scale resolution—far below the normal resolution limit for optical microscopy (about 250 nm for green light). The results could make the technique a useful quality control tool in the manufacture of nanoscale devices such as next-generation microchips.
Scientists in Germany have managed to take a unique look at the membranes of human cells using a new technique called dSTORM: direct stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy. This is a specific form of high-resolution fluorescence microscopy, and it makes individual saccharified proteins and lipids visible at the molecular level.
Specialized cells can break through normal tissue boundaries and burrow into other tissues and organs. This crucial step in many normal developmental processes is guided by an extracellular cue called netrin, which orients the anchor cell so that it invades in the right direction. In a new study, researchers have shown how receptors on the invasive cells rove around the cell membrane ”hunting” for a missing netrin signal.
The first direct observations of how facets form and develop on platinum nanocubes point the way towards more sophisticated and effective nanocrystal design and reveal that a nearly 150 year-old scientific law describing crystal growth breaks down at the nanoscale.
New measurements of atomic-scale magnetic behavior in iron-based superconductors by researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Vanderbilt Univ. are challenging conventional wisdom about superconductivity and magnetism. The study provides experimental evidence that local magnetic fluctuations can influence the performance of iron-based superconductors, which transmit electric current without resistance at relatively high temperatures.
Prior to the introduction of the ELYRA P.1 with 3D PALM by Carl Zeiss Microscopy LLC, commercially available 3-D localization techniques resulted in images where the resolution was not uniform throughout a small capture volume due to location dependent localization precision. The utilization of these techniques would not allow researchers to model biological structures in a fast and reliable manner over large capture volumes.
Most microscopes are expensive, built with high-quality metals, optics and electronics to perform with high accuracy. However, not all useful microscopes need to be built this way, and Stanford Univ. has taken this premise to the extreme with a microscope that is made with parts that cost less than $1. A frugal, origami-based solution, the Foldscope can be assembled from 2-D media in less than 10 min, yet can provide more than 2,000X magnification, which is submicrometer resolution.
With the introduction of the VertiSense Scanning Thermal Microscopy Module, Applied NanoStructures Inc. has brought a new level of flexibility to thermal imaging using an atomic force microscope (AFM). The probe module’s sensor design provides, for the first time, absolute and nanoscale temperature measurement during the application of scanning thermal microscopy (SThM), which captures both topographical and thermal images.
Super-resolution microscopy has emerged as a leading subcellular imaging technique over the past decade, bringing tagged nanoscopic biological elements into full view for researchers. Leica Microsystems has been a development leader in this segment of microscopy, and one of its newest products, the TCS SP8 STED 3X, brings a new element to imaging capabilities.
Engineers at Hitachi Ltd.’s Yokohama Research Laboratory have achieved a spatial resolution of 3 nm and imaging repeatability of 0.5 nm in the new Plasmon‐Excitation Optical Scanning Probe Microscope (Optical SPM), which allows users to obtain difficult nondestructive measurements of nanoscale devices.
Rice Univ. scientists have won a race to find the crystal structure of the first virus known to infect the most abundant animal on Earth. The Rice laboratories of structural biologist Yizhi Jane Tao and geneticist Weiwei Zhong, with help from researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Washington Univ., analyzed the Orsay virus that naturally infects a certain type of nematode, the worms that make up 80% of the living animal population.
The Univ. of California, San Diego’s Nanofabrication Cleanroom Facility (Nano3) is the first institution to obtain a new FEI Scios dual-beam microscope, with an adaptation for use at cryogenic temperatures. The new microscope allows biologists to nanomachine cells to reduce them to the thickness required for electron microscopy without creating any sample distortions and while maintaining cryogenic temperatures.
Researchers at the National Physical Laboratory in the U.K. have discovered that the conductivity at the edges of graphene devices is different to the central material. The group used local scanning electrical techniques to examine the local nanoscale electronic properties of epitaxial graphene, in particular the differences between the edges and central parts of graphene Hall bar devices.