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February 5, 2008
Room At The Bottom, For Sure
Commenting appears to still be hosed around here, which is a shame, because I have some ask-the-readership posts stacked up. Writing posts under these conditions feels like shouting into a void! I hope things will be fixed soon, but it's quite a tangle behind the scenes.
Time is short today, at any rate, so here's a link to an image that I found simultaneously exciting and unnerving. There's a large project going on to make the world's best electron microscope, through several simultaneous improvements in the electron beam's shape and brightness, refinement of the detectors, damping vibrations in the sample stage, and so on.
So here's the latest. Those are two gold crystalline domains meeting each other at the corner - and those ping-pong balls are the gold atoms. You can clearly see them arranging to meet each other's packing structure at the interface, and if you look to the edges you can see some depth data as well. Those resolutions (well below one angstrom) are real, by the way, and the damn instrument is only about half done.
The group reports that when they scan sample multiple times, they can see individual gold atoms moving around between images. The next steps will include moving to lower-energy electrons for use in biological samples, and I can't even guess what we'll see then. More on the project here.
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