Back at the beginning of the 20th century, quantum scientists such as Niels Bohr, Paul Dirac, and Richard Feynman were struggling to understand the atom, remaining speechless at how stubborn it is. Once considered an indivisible unit of ordinary matter, the atom cannot be accurately represented unless you use very abstract mathematics.
SciTechDaily.com brings us the news of a team of scientists who used an electron microscope pixel array detector (aka EMPAD) that incorporates advanced 3D reconstruction algorithms to take a look at some atoms. The resolution is incredibly fine-tuned that the thermal jiggling of the atoms represents the only blurring that remains.
A new scientific journey?
Below we can observe an electron ptychographic reconstruction of a praseodymium orthoscandate (PrScO3) crystal and zoomed in 100 million times:
Credit for the image: Cornell University
David Muller, who’s the leader of the study, declared:
This doesn’t just set a new record.
He also added:
It’s reached a regime which is effectively going to be an ultimate limit for resolution. We basically can now figure out where the atoms are in a very easy way. This opens up a whole lot of new measurement possibilities of things we’ve wanted to do for a very long time. It also solves a long-standing problem – undoing the multiple scattering of the beam in the sample, which Hans Bethe laid out in 1928 – that has blocked us from doing this in the past.
Ptychography means scanning overlapping scattering patterns from a material sample and look for any changes in the overlapping region. Muller added that his team is chasing speckle patterns that resemble laser-pointer patterns a lot. He added that by observing how the pattern will change, scientists could calculate the shape of the object that caused the pattern.
The new findings were published in the journal Science.