International collaboration seeks to develop noninvasive quantum electron microscope

Feb 21, 2013

Moving closer to creating a microscope that can peer through atoms and molecules without disturbing them, leading physics researchers have joined together with support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to launch an international collaboration to lay the groundwork for the development of a novel quantum electron microscope.

The $4 million, three-and-a-half-year effort will be spearheaded by Dr. Mark Kasevich at Stanford, Dr. Peter Hommelhoff at The Max Planck Institute of , Drs. Fatih Yanik and Karl Berggren at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Dr. Pieter Kruit at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. The research groups will work together to demonstrate interaction-free measurements with electrons, which, if successful, would form the basic principles for future development of an electron microscope with the potential to yield important discoveries in many areas of science.

The theory was first proposed by Dr. Yanik's team at MIT in a paper for Physical Review Rapid Communications in October 2009 (Phys Rev A 80, 040902(R) 2009). This new will begin testing the theory, making significant strides towards its realization.

"The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation's Science Program seeks to support high-impact scientific research, and we see this project as exactly that kind of opportunity," said Vicki Chandler, chief program officer for Science at Moore. "We expect that the work this team is doing will enable exciting new science through technology, and the scientists will acquire fundamental new knowledge in and manipulation of electrons."

Although light and electron microscopes have shaped our modern understanding of biology—with discoveries as fundamental as the , bacteria and viruses, to name just a few—major barriers to answering fundamental biological questions remain, including the inability to visualize molecules interacting within living cells. The can image living things, but not at molecular resolution. The electron microscope, on the other hand, can image molecules and atoms, but cannot be used to study live samples due to the intense radiation the sample is exposed to. A quantum electron microscope, however, promises to overcome these deficiencies in current imaging technologies by allowing scientists to peer into living cells at molecular resolution without radiation damage, dramatically expanding our understanding of how cells work.

Recent advances in the quantum-level control of electrons open the door to development of an electron microscope based on non-destructive quantum measurement principles. These instruments may enable real-time, non-destructive imaging of biological samples. A three-year, coordinated program to develop the foundational ideas in support of this technology will involve each university team taking parallel but distinct technical and scientific approaches.

Throughout its history, science has relied on technical advances and surges in new knowledge that have offered researchers unexpected breakthroughs—and new questions. The quantum will offer transformational new approaches, with the potential for an enduring impact on fundamental physics, engineering and biology.

Explore further: It's particle-hunting season! NYU scientists launch Higgs Hunters Project

Provided by Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

To peer inside a living cell

Oct 06, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Quantum mechanics could help build ultra-high-resolution electron microscopes that won't destroy living cells, according to MIT electrical engineers.

Quantum microscope for living biology

Feb 04, 2013

(Phys.org)—A team of Australian scientists has developed a powerful microscope using the laws of quantum mechanics to probe the inner workings of living cells.

Quantum copies do new tricks

Mar 22, 2012

One of the strange features of quantum information is that, unlike almost every other type of information, it cannot be perfectly copied. For example, it is impossible to take a single photon and make a number of photons ...

PICO and SALVE: Understanding the subatomic world better

Dec 18, 2008

Two new high-resolution transmission electron microscopes, co-financed by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation), are set to open up new opportunities for research in physics and materials science. ...

Recommended for you

Particles, waves and ants

Nov 26, 2014

Animals looking for food or light waves moving through turbid media – astonishing similarities have now been found between completely different phenomena.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

vacuum-mechanics
1 / 5 (1) Feb 21, 2013
…. "We expect that the work this team is doing will enable exciting new science through technology, and the scientists will acquire fundamental new knowledge in quantum mechanics and manipulation of electrons."
…. The light microscope can image living things, but not at molecular resolution. The electron microscope, on the other hand, can image molecules and atoms, but cannot be used to study live samples due to the intense radiation the sample is exposed to….

Unfortunately, nowadays we still could not visualize the basic quantum nature of electron's wave! Maybe understanding its mechanism (below) could help to solve the problem.
http://www.vacuum...17〈=en

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.