Researchers Set World Record for Image Resolution

A silicon crystal in subangstrom-resolution shows dumbbell-shaped rows of atoms.

Looking straight down on a silicon crystal, this direct, subangstrom resolution image shows dumbbell-shaped rows of atoms. ORNL hide caption

itoggle caption ORNL
A silicon crystal in subangstrom-resolution shows dumbbell-shaped rows of atoms.

Looking straight down on a silicon crystal, this direct, subangstrom resolution image shows dumbbell-shaped rows of atoms. ORNL hide caption

itoggle caption ORNL

Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers have pushed back the barrier of how small we can see — to a record, atom-scale 0.6 angstrom. The Energy Department's national laboratory also held the previous record at 0.7 angstrom.

In a Sept. 17 article in the journal Science, Stephen J. Pennycook, senior physicist at the lab's Condensed Matter Science Division, and his colleagues wrote that they achieved the 0.6-angstrom image resolution using a state-of-the-art electron microscope and new computerized imaging technology.

An angstrom is about 100,000 times smaller than the thickness of a human hair.

NPR's Michele Norris talks with Pennycook about the microscopic breakthrough.

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