Rutgers University unveils multi-million dollar microscopes


Rebecca Pool

Friday, April 4, 2014 - 10:15

Top image: Professor Philip E. Batson with the 'one-of-a-kind' scanning transmission electron microscope. [Credit: Nick Romanenko/Rutgers Univ.]

US-based Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, has unveiled two new microscopes, together valued at more than $5.2 million.

Director of Rutgers Institute for Advanced Materials, Devices and Nanotechnology (IAMDN), Leonard Feldman, describes the instruments as 'the best in the world' at producing nanoscale images.

"The advances they will support, will empower researchers confronting some of the most daunting global problems today," he adds.

The first instrument, a Nion UltraSTEM, is an aberration corrected STEM that offers sub-angstrom resolution at both 100 keV and 60 keV, and can produce atomic-resolution elemental maps in less than a minute.

Its flexible column provides <1 Å resolution imaging as well as rapid nanoanalysis with an atom-sized electron probe containing >0.5 nA of current, and efficient coupling into a variety of detectors.

“The STEM represents a leap ahead in electron spectroscopy capabilities required for the further development of nanoscale science," highlights Rutger's Professor Philip Batson and UltraSTEM pioneer. "We can now observe the function of structures that contain only a few atoms. This new capability will be invaluable to understanding materials for energy storage and production, nanoelectronics and catalysis."

Meanwhile, a Carl Zeiss ORION helium ion microscope has also been installed.

This uses a beam of helium ions, rather than electrons, that can be focused into a smaller probe size and reveal a much stronger sample interaction compared to electrons, generating higher resolution images with striking material contrast.

“The helium ion microscope is a novel instrument with unprecedented capability for imaging surfaces,” says Rutgers Physics Professor, Torgny Gustafsson. “From drug delivery to the creation of nanometre orifices to explore DNA sequencing, the discoveries of new science and technologies with the helium ion microscope are limitless.”

Both instruments were funded by multi-million dollar grants from the US National Science Foundation (NSF).

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