Powerful New Scanning Transmission Electron Microscope (STEM) Can See and Pinpoint Single Atoms

A new super-powerful electron microscope that can pinpoint the position of single atoms, and will help scientists push boundaries even further, in fields such as advanced materials, healthcare, and power generation, was unveiled February 19, 2015 by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The £3.7 million Nion Hermes Scanning Transmission Electron Microscope, one of only three in the world, will be sited at the EPSRC SuperSTEM facility at the Daresbury laboratory complex near Warrington, UK, which is part of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). The new microscope not only allows imaging of unprecedented resolution of objects a million times smaller than a human hair, but also analysis of materials. This means that researchers will not only be able to clearly identify the atoms, but observe the strength of the bonds between them. This will improve understanding of their electronic properties when in bulk and how they may perform when used. Minister for Universities, Science, and Cities, Greg Clark, said: “The UK is a world leader in the development and application of STEM (Scanning Transmission Electron Microscope) techniques, and this new super-powerful microscope will ensure we remain world-class. From developing new materials for space travel to creating a better, cheaper treatment for anaemia, this new super-powerful microscope lets UK scientists examine how materials behave at a level a million times smaller than a human hair. This exciting research will help lead to breakthroughs that will benefit not only our health but the environment too.” Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC’s Chief Executive said: “This EPSRC investment in state-of-the-art equipment is an investment in UK science and engineering.
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