“It’s been a very dramatic and sudden shift,” says physicist David Muller of Cornell University. “It was a little bit like everyone was flying biplanes, and all of a sudden, here’s a jetliner.”
For one thing, Muller’s team has set a new record. Publishing in Nature this July, they used their scope to take the highest resolution images to date.
But high resolution isn’t the machine’s only trick. In a paper recently accepted to Nano Letters, a team led by McMorran has developed a new type of image you can take with the microscope. This method can image materials normally transparent to electrons, such as lightweight atoms like lithium. It should allow scientists to study and improve lithium-based batteries with atomic detail.
There’s more. By measuring a property of the electron called its phase, they can actually map the electric and magnetic fields inside the material, says Fehmi Yasin, a physics graduate student at the University of Oregon. “This technique can tease more information out of the electrons,” he says.
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