World's only ultrafast electron microscope takes 4-D 'movies' of molecules

December 24, 2007

A unique electron microscope that can help create four-dimensional “movies” of molecules may hold the answers to research questions in a number of fields including chemistry, biology, and physics, according to an article scheduled for the Dec. 24 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS’ weekly newsmagazine.

In the article, C&EN Associate Editor Rachel Petkewich notes that the microscope, located at the California Institute of Technology, is a modified transmission electron microscope interfaced with an ultrafast laser.

The ultrafast microscope is the only one capable of capturing four-dimensional pictures of molecules — 3-D structural changes over time — as they form and break apart, the writer states.

These reactions occur at extremely fast rates — one billionth of one millionth of a second, or a “femtosecond” — that can’t be seen directly in real-time by other instruments. In 1999, Caltech chemist Ahmed H. Zewail, the lead scientist on the new work, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his pioneering studies of these ultrafast reactions.

Zewail and his colleagues are now making refinements to their ultrafast microscope and plan to capture a wider variety of images, including the details of whole cells, the writer notes. Caltech is negotiating an agreement with a microscope manufacturer to commercialize the instrument and make it available to other scientists, according to the article.

External link: pubs.acs.org/cen/science/85/8552sci1.html

Source: American Chemical Society

Explore further: Fundamental observation of spin-controlled electrical conduction in metals

Related Stories

A novel source of X-rays for imaging purposes

June 16, 2015

Physicists at LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have validated a novel laser-driven means of generating bright and highly energetic X-ray beams. The method opens up new ways of imaging the fine structure ...

A bright light for ultrafast snapshots of materials

June 12, 2015

If you want to understand how novel phases emerge in correlated materials, including high-temperature superconductivity and nanoscale electronic order, you can obtain completely new viewpoints by taking 'snapshots' of underlying ...

World's smallest spirals could guard against identity theft

June 3, 2015

Take gold spirals about the size of a dime…and shrink them down about six million times. The result is the world's smallest continuous spirals: "nano-spirals" with unique optical properties that would be almost impossible ...

Recommended for you

New device converts DC electric field to terahertz radiation

August 4, 2015

Terahertz radiation, the no-man's land of the electromagnetic spectrum, has long stymied researchers. Optical technologies can finagle light in the shorter-wavelength visible and infrared range, while electromagnetic techniques ...

The resplendent inflexibility of the rainbow

August 4, 2015

Children often ask simple questions that make you wonder if you really understand your subject. An young acquaintance of mine named Collin wondered why the colors of the rainbow were always in the same order—red, orange, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.