By Anna Demming, online editor of nanotechweb.org
Last month on a rainy grey morning in north-east England I headed to the Daresbury Laboratory as the SuperSTEM lab there celebrated the installation of its latest world-class microscope. Industrial and academic microscopists from around the world gathered for the inauguration, which was described as a “wedding for microscopists” because so many people from the tightly knit microscopy community were there. You can hear the excitement in the audio piece below, where SuperSTEM lab director Quentin Ramasse and other researchers at the event tell me their plans for the new instrument.
Some of you may remember the physicsworld.com video last year where Demie Kepaptsoglou from the SuperSTEM laboratory gives a guided tour through the workings of SuperSTEM 2. With atomic-scale spatial resolution already possible with current instruments, you might think that the technology couldn’t really get any better. But as Kepaptsoglou hints in the film, a better microscope was already on the horizon.
SuperSTEM 3 boasts improvements to the energy resolution by an order of magnitude, as well as offering atomic-scale spatial resolution. The enhanced energy resolution means that it is possible to identify the bonding states in materials. This is important to a range of fields from industrial catalysis to medical drug delivery, where researchers need to know not just where atoms in a material are located, but also how they interact.