News from Argonne National Laboratory
APRIL 9, 2013
“The study of nanoscale material just got much easier, and the design of nanoscale technology could get much more efficient, thanks to an advance in X-ray analysis.
Nanomaterials develop new physical and chemical properties, such as superconductivity and enhanced strength, when exposed to extreme pressure. A better understanding of how and when those changes occur can guide the design of better products that use nanotechnology.
But high-energy X-rays produced by lightsources such as the Advanced Photon Source (APS) at Argonne National Laboratory are the only way to study the in-situ structural changes induced by pressure in nanomaterials, and those studies have lacked precision.
Bragg CXDI measurements were performed at 0.8, 1.7, 2.5, 3.2, and 6.4 GPa on the same crystal. The reconstructed images (both top and bottom views) are shown above. From W. Yang et al., Nat. Comm. 4 (2013).
As reported in a Carnegie Institute of Science press release, an international team of scientists using the APS detailed in the April 9 issue of the journal Nature Communications that they devised a way to overcome the distortion caused by sample environments used with the X-rays to improve spatial resolution imaging by two orders of magnitude. This 30-nanometer resolution greatly reduces uncertainties for studies of nanoscale materials. Researchers expect to fine-tune the technique to reach resolutions of a few nanometers in subsequent experiments.
The team, with members from the Carnegie Institution of Washington, the Center for High Pressure Science and Technology Advanced Research (P.R. China), Argonne National Laboratory, University College London (UK), and the Research Complex at Harwell (UK), found that by averaging the patterns of the bent waves—the diffraction patterns—of the same crystal using different sample alignments in the instrumentation, and by using an algorithm developed by researchers at the London Centre for Nanotechnology, they could compensate for the distortion and improve spatial resolution by two orders of magnitude. The new technique is called the “mutual coherent function” method, or MCF.”
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The Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory is one of five national synchrotron radiation light sources supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science to carry out applied and basic research to understand, predict, and ultimately control matter and energy at the electronic, atomic, and molecular levels, provide the foundations for new energy technologies, and support DOE missions in energy, environment, and national security.
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