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Atoms Through a Microscope
April 7, 2009 23:08

Electron shell of an atom

Russian engineers from the town of Dolgoprudny (Moscow Region) currently work on a new measuring device with subatomic resolution – protonic nano-introscope. This device is expected to expand existing methods of electron and probe microscopy, as well as unveil new horizons for studying structures with atomic and subatomic dimensions. The device has many merits: small size and reasonable cost are among them, and its resolution is very high. Developers believe that their innovation will replace (in a number of cases) existing electronic microscopes with high resolution, the majority of which is expensive, bulky and not very easy to operate. All this means that more educational and research institutions can afford this device for their studies.

Developers promise that their innovation – nano-introscope – will show not only atoms, but even electron shells of single atoms. Today no microscopes in the world can boast such a high resolution. Atoms can be seen in atomic-force microscopes, but only as peaks on a diagram. New measuring device currently exists only as a model, which switches on an auto-ionic source of protons and a detector, which looks like a “pod” nanotube, filled with ceric metallofullerenes and secured on a silicone cantilever. Russian scientists filled the device with their latest developments: pod nanotubes, full of cerium atoms, packed in fullerenes, and a new source of protons. The model of a nano-introscope has already passed tests.



Degree of novelty of the Russian development can be seen in a patent protection of the protonic nano-introscope: during their investigation the scientists patented proton sources with electronic ionization, proton sources with photoionization, and a source, which forms a proton beam.

A crucial component of the new device is a position-corner detector of a new type, which will provide resolving power of 0.01 nanometers. In other words, one can use a microscope not only for staring at single atoms or molecules, but for wondering at shape and structure of electron shells of individual atoms. Such a close look at the micro-world may again unfix all established notions about processes, which take place in it.

Well, we yet cannot talk about industrial production of protonic nano-introscopes, since further scientific investigation is required and will be performed. However, results, obtained by researchers during development of a new microscope and in the course of tests, are of a great interest to science. While, for instance, studying relationship between luminescence of detectors with coordinates and incidence angle of a photon beam, researchers understood how the new detector should have been implemented in real life.

Scientists created the model of the protonic nano-introscope with subatomic resolution with the help of Federal Russian Agency of Science and Innovations.

Source: Science News

Kizilova Anna

Tags: Russian Scientists     

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