Updated 07/29/2006 04:23 PM
Cornell takes leap forward in "microscopy"
Imagine spotting a quarter on the moon. This microscope is powerful enough to do that.
"That's a magnification range of about 10 million times," said Cornell physics professor, David Muller.
Using electrons instead of light, scientists can see super-tiny atoms dancing about on normal objects. Well, so what? Let's say a computer chip fails. Using the scope, they can see which atoms are causing the problem, and then work at solving it. Scientists say the technology could help make home computers faster.
"The new layers that we require to get the computer chips faster are just a few atoms thick, and we have to make sure that every atom in the very thin layer is working properly," said Muller.
The technology will take another leap forward in the coming months. A new, more powerful, electron microscope is being built in Washington State. A step that microscopy pioneers say will revolutionize the way the world deals with materials.
"By the time these new microscopes come, there are virtually no materials that are not actually within reach," said microscopy pioneer John Silcox.
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Which means that everyday things like metal and plastic could be more closely examined, and thus, more reliable. After thirty years in the field, John Silcox says the next ten could be the best.
"It's a very exciting time for those of us who have actually sat through and watched this develop," said Silcox.
Electron microscopy: thinking small, to think big.