TEAM microscope breaks the angstrom barrier

By Dr Matt Wilkinson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Scanning electron microscope

A new TEM (transmission electron microscope) developed by the TEAM
project has achieved 'the highest resolution images ever recorded'
using the technique.

TEAM suggest that their latest advances will enable researchers to study how atoms combine to form molecules, how materials grow and how they respond to a variety of external factors. The TEAM (Transmission Electron Aberration-corrected Microscope) project brings together leading microscopy groups from the US Department of Energy's (USDE) national laboratories, FEI Company and CEOS (Corrected Electron Optical Systems) to design and construct the next generation of microscopes. The TEM technique transmits a beam of electrons through a sample allowing an image to be formed, magnified and then captured by a camera. Traditionally TEM and scanning TEM microscopes have suffered from somewhat limited resolution that stopped frustratingly short of allowing researchers to study materials accurately at the atomic level. This latest development has managed to reach a resolution of 0.5 Angstroms (A) (0.05nm) or one quarter of the diameter of a carbon atom. The increased resolution of the TEAM microscope should enable scientists in all disciplines to characterise atomic scale structure and chemistry more accurately than ever before. The breakthrough was achieved on an FEI Titan S/TEM instrument, equipped with two CEOS-designed spherical aberration correctors that dramatically improved the microscopes imaging abilities. "This is a great achievement in electron microscope development, to have reached the 0.5 Angstrom goal so early in the project is a significant milestone for the collaboration,"​ said Ulrich Dahmen, TEAM project director and director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's National Center for Electron Microscopy. "Now we look forward to transferring the remarkable performance of the TEAM microscope into a tool for exploration of atomic structure in the nanoworld." ​ The race to develop new high resolution microscope systems is rapidly gaining momentum as scientists look for better tools to study nano-systems and -devices. At a press conference at Pittcon 2007 in February, Jeol said it was developing a competing S/TEM microscope system in collaboration with Dr Takayanagi of the Tokyo Institute of Technology that would 'soon' exceed the TEAM project goals of 0.5A resolution and sub-angstrom 3D imaging capability. At the time of the press conference, they believed it to be producing the highest resolution images ever achieved. Just two months ago, Carl Zeiss shipped the world's first helium ion scanning electron microscope​ (SEM) which took the resolution of that technique to the next level.

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