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Helium Microscope

 
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fergus



Joined: 25 Jan 2014
Posts: 24
Location: Sydney

PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2016 5:36 am    Post subject: Helium Microscope Reply with quote

Hello All,

In our news recently there was a 'new' microscope based on helium.

I don't even pretend to understand the science behind this, but I thought some might find the development interesting.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-16/world-first-scanning-helium-microscope-unveiled-uni-of-newcastle/7415800

At first I saw the sample images provided in the article, and thought 'not so great' but then upon reading more closely it seems they do it without any light? The comments imply that light 'damages' some samples and so this is a step forward (?).

I guess with delicate samples there is an advantage. Clearly it's a different field/application to visual photo imaging.

As for me I am still trying to take 'visual' images, and stack them into something worth looking at. A very enjoyable and relaxing learning curve (both photogenically and engineering-wise).

Cheers...
Fergus
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rjlittlefield
Site Admin


Joined: 01 Aug 2006
Posts: 19245
Location: Richland, Washington State, USA

PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2016 8:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for bringing that to our attention.

There's an article at http://www.sbs.com.au/topics/science/fundamentals/article/2016/05/16/new-helium-microscope-reveals-startling-details-without-frying-sample that describes the method in more detail.

Basically they scan a beam of neutral helium atoms across the sample and measure how those bounce off at each position on the surface.

There's a similar sounding technique called "scanning helium ion microscopy" (SHIM). But that uses electrically charged helium, which is much simpler to focus than neutral helium. SHIM can achieve very high resolution (possibly better than scanning electron microscopy), but I assume that it's vulnerable to the same charge accumulation problems that SEM has.

The new technique uses un-charged helium atoms, so it has a different set of tradeoffs.

I agree that the new pictures look pretty low resolution compared to other methods. It will be the advantages in other areas that make the new method attractive for some applications.

--Rik
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fergus



Joined: 25 Jan 2014
Posts: 24
Location: Sydney

PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2016 4:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Rik, that SBS article had a much better explanation.

Cheers...
Fergus
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