New Technique Lets Scientists Peer Within Nanoparticles, See Atomic Structure in 3-D
ScienceDaily (Mar. 22, 2012)
— UCLA researchers are now able to peer deep within the world's tiniest structures to create three-dimensional images of individual atoms and their positions. Their research, published March 22 in the journal Nature, presents a new method for directly measuring the atomic structure of nanomaterials.
"This is the first experiment where we can directly see local structures in three dimensions at atomic-scale resolution -- that's never been done before," said Jianwei (John) Miao, a professor of physics and astronomy and a researcher with the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) at UCLA.
Miao and his colleagues used a scanning transmission electron microscope to sweep a narrow beam of high-energy electrons over a tiny gold particle only 10 nanometers in diameter (almost 1,000 times smaller than a red blood cell). The nanoparticle contained tens of thousands of individual gold atoms, each about a million times smaller than the width of a human hair. These atoms interact with the electrons passing through the sample, casting shadows that hold information about the nanoparticle's interior structure onto a detector below the microscope.