From U Sheffield and Cornell University: “Record-breaking microscope developed using methods pioneered by Sheffield scientists”

From U Sheffield

23 July 2018
Sean Barton
Media Relations Officer
University of Sheffield
0114 222 9852

A revolutionary microscope that has produced images in the highest resolution ever obtained has been developed by researchers using microscopic techniques pioneered by scientists at the University of Sheffield.

Revolutionary microscope produces images in the highest resolution ever obtained
Electron microscope developed using computational algorithms pioneered by University of Sheffield scientists
Record-breaking microscope could be used to study 3D atomic structure at unprecedented resolution

The record-breaking electron microscope, built by researchers at Cornell University in the USA, can produce images at a higher resolution than conventional approaches. It could be used to determine the atomic structure of materials that are normally damaged using existing methods.

The microscope may eventually allow researchers to study 2D materials, such graphene, using unprecedented precision to provide new insights into this burgeoning class of useful materials that have extraordinary physical and electrical properties, and which could revolutionise many modern technologies.

It may also lead to the development of a method that can image individual atoms in 3D objects without damaging the structure by using ‘slow’ low-energy electrons.

Electron imaging is usually conducted using expensive lenses and high-energy electrons that damage many types of material. Alternatively, the Cornell research team recorded electrons that had been scattered through high angles to get around these problems.

Once scattered, the electrons don’t look anything like an image, so the Cornell research team used computational algorithms developed by scientists at the University of Sheffield to work out backwards what the specimen looked like. This is what enabled the microscope to generate the record-breaking high resolution image.

For many years, this backwards calculation, known as the phase problem, was regarded as impossible to solve for a large image.

Professor John Rodenburg from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, who developed the computational algorithms together with his colleague Andrew Maiden, commented:

“The electron microscope developed by the Cornell research team is the most powerful microscope we’ve ever seen. It is capable of capturing images that have an unprecedented level of detail, which is important because it now paves the way for us to develop new insights into material structure at the atomic scale.

“Such an advanced electron microscope wasn’t possible previously because although the technique we developed here at the University of Sheffield works well for X-ray and light microscopes, in the case of electron microscopy it needs a near-perfect detector to get good enough quality data. Now, due to the advances in detector technology made by the Cornell team, this record-breaking microscope can successfully run the Sheffield algorithm.”

Cornell Bloc

From Cornell Chronicle

Guinness World Record for micro view into hidden worlds


July 25, 2018
Tom Fleischman

In a recent research paper published in Nature, a group led by physics professors David Muller and Sol Gruner claimed a world record for electron microscope resolution using a high-powered detector and a technique called ptychography. Their technique was shown to measure down to 0.39 ångströms or 0.039 nanometers (one-billionth of a meter).

Guinness World Records has officially recognized the Cornell collaboration’s achievement, listing it alongside such notables as Robert Pershing Wadlow (at 8 feet, 11.1 inches, the world’s tallest human) and Lee Redmond (longest fingernails, with a combined length of 28 feet, 4 inches).

Gruner, former director of the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source, said he’d always dreamed of making the Guinness grade, but didn’t figure microscopy would be his ticket to fame.

“I always thought that I’d need to eat 40 hamburgers in five minutes or stand on one foot for days to get into the Guinness book,” he said. “Who would have thought that seeing a few atoms would do the trick?”

That brings to four the number of current Cornell University-affiliated record-holders. Muller also shares the record for thinnest glass (three atoms thick, 2013); the other records are held in part by applied and engineering physics professor Harold Craighead, who shares records for smallest replica guitar (1997) and lightest object weighed (2004). In addition, the current record for furthest distance covered by a quadruped robot (83.28 miles, in 2015) eclipsed the mark of 40.5 miles set by Cornell’s Ranger robot in 2011.

See the full Sheffield article here .
See the full Cornell Chronicle article here .


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Stem Education Coalition

Once called “the first American university” by educational historian Frederick Rudolph, Cornell University represents a distinctive mix of eminent scholarship and democratic ideals. Adding practical subjects to the classics and admitting qualified students regardless of nationality, race, social circumstance, gender, or religion was quite a departure when Cornell was founded in 1865.

Today’s Cornell reflects this heritage of egalitarian excellence. It is home to the nation’s first colleges devoted to hotel administration, industrial and labor relations, and veterinary medicine. Both a private university and the land-grant institution of New York State, Cornell University is the most educationally diverse member of the Ivy League.

On the Ithaca campus alone nearly 20,000 students representing every state and 120 countries choose from among 4,000 courses in 11 undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools. Many undergraduates participate in a wide range of interdisciplinary programs, play meaningful roles in original research, and study in Cornell programs in Washington, New York City, and the world over.

U Sheffield campus

The University of Sheffield (informally Sheffield University) is a public research university in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England. It received its royal charter in 1905 as successor to the University College of Sheffield, which was established in 1897 by the merger of Sheffield Medical School (founded in 1828), Firth College (1879) and Sheffield Technical School (1884).

Sheffield is a multi-campus university predominantly over two campus areas: the Western Bank and the St George’s. The university is organised into five academic faculties composed of multiple departments. It had 20,005 undergraduate and 8,710 postgraduate students in 2016/17. The annual income of the institution for 2016–17 was £623.6 million of which £155.9 million was from research grants and contracts, with an expenditure of £633.0 million. Sheffield ranks among the top 10 of UK universities for research grant funding.

Sheffield was placed 75th worldwide according to QS World University Rankings and 104th worldwide according to Times Higher Education World University Rankings. It was ranked 12th in the UK amongst multi-faculty institutions for the quality (GPA) of its research and for its Research Power in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. In 2011, Sheffield was named ‘University of the Year’ in the Times Higher Education awards. The Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey 2014 ranked the University of Sheffield 1st for student experience, social life, university facilities and accommodation, among other categories.

It is one of the original red brick universities, a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities, the Worldwide Universities Network, the N8 Group of the eight most research intensive universities in Northern England and the White Rose University Consortium. There are eight Nobel laureates affiliated with Sheffield and six of them are the alumni or former long-term staffs of the university.