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New Microscope Captures Tiny Structures in Dazzling 3D

BNL’s transmission x-ray microscope

BNL’s transmission x-ray microscope

Imagine taking thousands of photographs of a single object, a soccer ball, say – obsessively capturing it from every angle to expose all the details. But what if that soccer ball was the size of a skin cell, its patterns were smaller than airborne viruses, and you really needed over a thousand photos to know its structure?

That’s the challenge that researchers at Brookhaven overcame with a new transmission x-ray microscope (TXM), which successfully combined 1441 images of a lithium-ion battery electrode into a detailed 3D structure. The TXM, hooked up to an x-ray beamline at BNL’s National Synchrotron Light Source, probes the inner intricacies of materials smaller than human cells and creates unparalleled high-resolution 3D images. By integrating unique automatic calibrations, the TXM is able to capture and combine thousands of images with greater speed and precision than any other microscope.

While the TXM will focus on alternative energy solutions, the demonstrated success of the 3D imaging system has already attracted the interest of commercial users, with major corporations such as UOP and IBM scheduling time at the TXM. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) also plans to use the new microscope to probe the intricate structures of imported microchips in the interest of national security. More information

2012-3110  |  INT/EXT  |  Media & Communications Office

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