Nano, photonic research gets boost from new 3-D visualization technology

Aug 13, 2012

For the first time X-ray scientists have combined high-resolution imaging with 3-D viewing of the surface layer of material using X-ray vision in a way that does not damage the sample.

This new technique expands the range of X-ray research possible for biology and many aspects of nanotechnology, particularly nanofilms, photonics, and micro- and nano-electronics. This new technique also reduces "guesswork" by eliminating the need for modeling-dependent structural simulation often used in X-ray analysis.

Scientists from the and Center for at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory have blended the advantages of 3-D surface viewing from grazing-incident geometry scattering with the high-resolution capabilities of lensless X-ray coherent diffraction imaging (CDI). The new technique, an adaptation of existing detector technology, is expected to work at all X-ray light sources.

"This is the future of how we will visualize structure of surfaces and interface structures in materials science with X-rays," said Argonne scientist Jin Wang, the lead author of "Three-Dimensional Coherent X-ray Surface Scattering Imaging near Total External Reflection" published on-line August 12, 2012, in the journal .

By adjusting the angle with which the X-rays scatter off the sample, Wang and fellow Argonne scientists brought the 3-D power of the new imaging technique to the surface layers of the sample. In nanotechnology, most of the atomic interactions that control the functionality and efficiency of a product, such as a semiconductor or self-assembled nanostructure, occur at or just below the surface. Without a direct 3-D viewing capability, scientists have to rely on models rather than direct measurement to estimate a 's thickness and form, which weakens confidence in the estimate's accuracy.

Using grazing-incidence geometry, rather than traditional CDI transmission geometry, scientists eliminated the need for modeling by using the scattering pattern to directly reconstruct the image in three dimensions.

Conventional X-ray imaging techniques allow for 3-D structural rendering, but they have lower image resolution and, therefore, greater uncertainty. Plus, in some cases, the ' intensity destroys the sample. This new APS-designed technique potentially can image a sample with a single X-ray shot, making it non-destructive, a desirable quality for research on biological cells and features formed by organic materials.

Another benefit is the ability to expand CDI viewing from the nanometer to the millimeter scale when the X-ray beamline impinges on the sample at a glancing angle. This innovation allows scientists to relate the behavior of a bundle of atoms or molecules to that of an entire device. This area—the mesoscale, between nanoresearch and applied technology—has been a particularly difficult area for scientists to access. In nanotechnology, this area is thought to hold promise for making stronger, more flexible and more efficient materials. In biology, it connects intercellular behavior with the activity of individual cells and the larger organism.

"Hopefully this technique will be applied to research in biology, microelectronics and photonics" said Tao Sun, a postdoctoral research fellow working at the APS and the first author on the research. "This technique holds great promise because the resolution we can reach is only limited by wavelength, a fraction of a nanometer. So the APS upgrade and other advances in light source and will easily provide even higher-resolution images than we have achieved in this work."

Explore further: Finding faster-than-light particles by weighing them

Related Stories

Coherent diffractive imaging in living color

Aug 11, 2011

( -- Exactly 150 years after the first color photograph was produced, scientists have devised a way of employing the full spectrum of colors from synchrotron and free-electron laser x radiation ...

New technique to see crystals like never before

Nov 30, 2011

An international team of scientists led by the Fresnel Institute and the ESRF (European Synchrotron Radiation Facility) in Grenoble has developed a new technique allowing to observe the nanometer-sized structure ...

X-ray vision to characterise mineral ores

Oct 05, 2011

A new state of the art x-ray imaging detector smaller than a postage stamp is the key to a powerful new method of characterising mineral ores, according to an article published today in the October issue of ...

World’s Most Precise 'Hard X-Ray' Nanoprobe Activated

May 19, 2005

Marking a major step forward in using X-rays to study some of the smallest phenomena in nature, the world’s first “hard X-ray” nanoprobe beamline was activated on March 15, 2005. The unique nanoprobe ...

Recommended for you

Finding faster-than-light particles by weighing them

Dec 26, 2014

In a new paper accepted by the journal Astroparticle Physics, Robert Ehrlich, a recently retired physicist from George Mason University, claims that the neutrino is very likely a tachyon or faster-than-light par ...

Controlling core switching in Pac-man disks

Dec 24, 2014

Magnetic vortices in thin films can encode information in the perpendicular magnetization pointing up or down relative to the vortex core. These binary states could be useful for non-volatile data storage ...

Atoms queue up for quantum computer networks

Dec 24, 2014

In order to develop future quantum computer networks, it is necessary to hold a known number of atoms and read them without them disappearing. To do this, researchers from the Niels Bohr Institute have developed ...

New video supports radiation dosimetry audits

Dec 23, 2014

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL), working with the National Radiotherapy Trials Quality Assurance Group, has produced a video guide to support physicists participating in radiation dosimetry audits.

Acoustic tweezers manipulate cell-to-cell contact

Dec 22, 2014

Sound waves can precisely position groups of cells for study without the danger of changing or damaging the cells, according to a team of Penn State researchers who are using surface acoustic waves to manipulate ...

User comments : 0

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.