Do you think your smartphone has good photo resolution? This is nothing. A Cornell University team fired an incredible shot. They are atoms that are captured with maximum clarity. It’s an unprecedented improvement. An electron microscope pixel array detector (EMPAD) was used. Uses sophisticated 3D reconstruction algorithms.
The team was led by David Muller. It broke its own previous record set in 2018. The resolution is so tight that the only blurring left is the thermal tremors of the atoms themselves. He tells it in a statement.
«There will be a maximum limit on the resolution. Basically, we can now find out where the atoms are in a very simple way. This opens up a lot of new ways to measure things that we wanted to do.
We chase stain patterns. They look very similar to the laser pointer patterns that cats simply like, ”said Müller. “By seeing the pattern change, we can calculate the shape of the object that caused the pattern.”
The detector is slightly out of focus and blurs the beam. In this way you capture the greatest possible variety of data. These data are then reconstructed using complex algorithms. The result is accurate to the picometer (one billionth of a meter).
Just the beginning
The imaging method could also be applied to thick biological cells or tissues. Also to synapse connections in the brain. Müller calls this “on-demand connectomics”.
The method is time-consuming and computationally intensive. But it could be made more efficient with more powerful computers along with machine learning.
Sharp-shot atoms are just the beginning. “We want to apply this to everything we do,” said Müller. “So far we’ve all been wearing really bad glasses. And now we have a really good couple. Why don’t you want to take off your old glasses, put on the new ones, and wear them all the time?