ARGONNE, Ill. (Feb. 19, 2007) X-rays have been used for decades to take pictures of broken bones, but scientists at the U.S. Department of Energys (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory and their collaborators have developed a lensless X-ray technique that can take images of ultra-small structures buried in nanoparticles and nanomaterials, and features within whole biological cells such as cellular nuclei.
Argonne scientists along with scientists from the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of Melbourne, La Trobe University and the Australian Synchrotron developed a way to examine internal and buried structures in micrometer-sized samples on the scale of nanometers. This is important to the understanding of how materials behave electrically, magnetically and under thermal and mechanical stress. Application of this capability to biology and biomedicine could contribute to our understanding of disease and its eradication, healing after injury, cancer and cell death.
X-rays are ideally suited for nanoscale imaging because of their ability to penetrate the interior of the object, but their resolution has traditionally been limited by lens technology. The new lensless technique being developed at Argonne avoids this limitation.
There is no lens involved at all, said Ian McNulty, the lead Argonne author on a new publication on this work appearing in the journal Physical Review Letters. Instead, a computer uses sophisticated algorithms to reconstruct the image. We expect this technique will enhance our understanding of many problems in materials and biological research. The technique can be extended beyond the current resolution of about 20 nanometers to image the internal structure of micrometer-sized samples at finer resolution, reaching deep into the nanometer scale.
Other types of microscopes, such as electron microscopes, can image structural details on the nanometer scale, but once the sample reaches sizes of
|Contact: Brock Cooper|
DOE/Argonne National Laboratory