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Unprecedented Precise Determination of the 3D Positions of Individual Atoms
Using the Molecular Foundry’s TEAM I microscope, an international collaboration of users and staff measured the 3D coordinates of nine layers of atoms.
Significance and Impact
The 3D positions of single atoms were measured allowing identification of a point defect, the absence of a single atom. These defects can weaken materials, which is important for components of machines like jet engines.
- The TEAM microscope that was used in this experiment
is operated at the National Center for Electron
Microscopy (NCEM), which is now a facility at the
Molecular Foundry. It one of the most powerful
aberration-corrected transmission electron microscopes
in the world.
- The researchers analyzed tungsten, an element used in
incandescent light bulbs, from 62 viewing angles.
- The data was used to create a 3D model of 3,769 atoms,
each positioned with a precision of ~19 picometers, or
19 trillionths of a meter.
R. Xu, C. C. Chen, L. Wu, M. C. Scott, W. Theis, C. Ophus, M. Bartels, Y. Yang, H. Ramezani-Dakhel, M. R. Sawaya, H. Heinz, L. D. Marks, P. Ercius & J. Miao, Nat. Mater., 14:11, pp. 1099-1103 2015.