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May 2016

Seeing Atoms and Molecules in Action with an Electron ‘Eye’


A unique rapid-fire electron source—originally built as a prototype for driving next-generation X-ray lasers—will help scientists at Berkeley Lab study ultrafast chemical processes and changes in materials at the atomic scale. This could provide new insight in how to make materials with custom, controllable properties and improve the efficiency and output of chemical reactions.

This newly launched setup, dubbed HiRES (for High Repetition-rate Electron Scattering apparatus), will function like an ultrafast electron camera, potentially producing images that can pinpoint defects and their effects, track electronic and superconducting properties in exotic materials, and detail chemical reactions in gases, liquids and biological samples that are difficult to study using more conventional, X-ray-based experiments.

There are plans to forge connections between HiRES and other lab facilities, like the ALS, where HiRES is located, and the lab’s National Center for Electron Microscopy at the Molecular Foundry. The HiRES team is already working with the Molecular Foundry on the first experiments by adapting the microscope’s sample holder so that one can easily move samples from one instrument to another.

Read the full press release.