Japanese multinational conglomerate Hitachi has developed a microscope with the world’s highest resolution based on the transmission of electrons and capable of making observations at the atomic level, company officials told Efe news agency Friday.
The transmission electron microscope (TEM), work on which was started in 2010, was completed this week and has a 43-picometre resolution (a picometre is one-trillionth of a metre and 43 picometres is less than half the radius of most atoms).
The device, which occupies an entire room, was able to achieve this record-breaking resolution thanks to a large concentration of electron emissions through cables and circuits specially designed for this task, said a Hitachi spokesperson.
Other striking features of the microscope are the acoustic lining on its base to reduce the negative impact of vibrations as well as the installation of magnetic barriers around the device.
This reduces the effect of external factors that cause lens aberrations and affect the resolution, the main limitation of such microscopes, according to the company.
Electron microscopes, invented in 1930 by German physicist Ernst Ruska, have a much higher resolution than optical ones due to the use of electrons instead of photons thus allowing scientists to study the structure and composition of atoms in a wide number of materials.
The new device will allow scientists to optically observe atomic positions, which, according to Hitachi, could help them in developing new materials with diverse applications.