Like Superman’s X-Ray Vision, New Microscope Reveals Nanoscale Details
Credit: UC San Diego
Physicists at UC San Diego have developed a new kind of X-ray microscope that can penetrate deep within materials like Superman’s fabled X-ray vision and see minute details at the scale of a single nanometer, or one billionth of a meter.
But that’s not all. What’s unusual about this new, nanoscale, X-ray microscope is that the images are not produced by a lens, but by means of a powerful computer program.
The scientists report in a paper published in this week’s early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that this computer program, or algorithm, is able to convert the diffraction patterns produced by the X-rays bouncing off the nanoscale structures into resolvable images.
“The mathematics behind this is somewhat complicated,” said Oleg Shpyrko, an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego who headed the research team. “But what we did is to show that for the first time that we can image magnetic domains with nanometer precision. In other words, we can see magnetic structure at the nanoscale level without using any lenses.”