Washington: Scientists have pioneered a 4-D microscope technique, which promises sweeping applications in medicine, biological research, and development of new electronic devices.
Chemistry Nobel Laureate Ahmed H. Zewail and colleagues, who developed a revolutionary 3-D microscope technique, moved high-resolution images of vanishingly small nanoscale objects from three dimensions to four dimensions when they discovered a way to integrate time into traditional electron microscopy observations.
Their laser-driven technology allowed researchers to visualize 3-D structures such as a ring-shaped carbon nanotube while it wiggled in response to heating, over a time scale of femtoseconds.
A femtosecond is one millionth of one billionth of a second. But the 3-D information obtained with that approach was limited because it showed objects as stationary, rather than while undergoing their natural movements.
The scientists described how 4-D scanning ultrafast electron microscopy and scanning transmission ultrafast electron microscopy overcome that limitation, and allow deeper insights into the innermost structure of materials.
The reports showed how the technique could be used to investigate atomic-scale dynamics on metal surfaces, and watch the vibrations of a single silver nanowire and a gold nanoparticle.
The new techniques “promise to have wide ranging applications in materials science and in single-particle biological imaging,” they wrote.
The findings have been published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.