Ultrafast electron microscope to create 4-D movies of molecules developed

December 25th, 2007 - 2:28 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Dec 25 (ANI): Scientists have developed a distinctive electron microscope, which can create four-dimensional movies of molecules. This breakthrough may find its use in researches in a number of fields including chemistry, biology, and physics.

The lead scientist on this new work was Caltech chemist Ahmed H. Zewail, and the microscope is located at the California Institute of Technology. According to the scientists, this is a modified transmission electron microscope lined with an ultrafast laser. This ultrafast microscope is the only one capable of capturing four-dimensional pictures of molecules (3-D structural changes over time), as they form and break apart.

These reactions occur at extremely fast rates (one billionth of one millionth of a second, or a femtosecond) and it is not possible to see them directly in real-time by other instruments. Zewail was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his pioneering studies of these ultrafast reactions in 1999.

Refinements to the ultrafast microscope are being made by the scientists, who are also aiming to capture a wider variety of images, including the details of whole cells. Negotiations are going on over an agreement with a microscope manufacturer in order to commercialize the instrument so that it can be available to other scientists.
The study is published in a recent issue of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS weekly newsmagazine. (ANI)

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