From Argonne Lab: “Scientists combine X-rays and microscopes for precise experiments”

Argonne National Laboratory

June 13, 2013
Jared Sagoff

“Getting the atomic-level fingerprint of a material takes a lot more than just a dab of ink.

Postdoctoral researchers Marvin Cummings (at right) and Nozomi Shirato adjust the microscope before an experiment.

By pairing the capabilities of X-ray analysis and extremely precise microscopy, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory have developed a way to simultaneously determine the physical structure and chemical makeup of materials at close to the atomic level. The research opens new routes to the next generation of materials for a wide assortment of energy-related applications.

Since its Nobel Prize-winning invention in the 1980s, scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) has let researchers view an immense range of different materials at the atomic level. STM offers a finer degree of spatial resolution than virtually any other imaging technique, although it has one significant drawback, said Argonne nanoscientist Volker Rose.

‘STM was an incredible breakthrough when it was discovered, but the problem with it is that even though we can basically see where all the atoms are, it doesn’t provide direct information about the chemistry or the magnetic properties,’ Rose said. Overcoming this ‘chemical blindness’ while keeping the ability to study materials at such a small scale has proved challenging for the scientific community, but by combining the resources offered by Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source, Center for Nanoscale Materials and Electron Microscopy Center, one of Rose’s recent studies blazes a path forward.”

See the full article here.

Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science

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