Yale’s acquisition of a powerful new transmission electron microscope (TEM) is expected to transform researchers’ ability to examine and manipulate atom-scale materials and devices on campus.
The approximately $2 million, state-of-the-art microscope offers atomic resolution for both physical structure and chemical composition, as well as significantly faster processing times than other devices on campus. It is the first unit of this specific TEM model acquired for university laboratory use.
Housed at the Yale Institute for Nanoscience and Quantum Engineering, (YINQE) the microscope can provide clear images of objects as small as 0.2 nanometers -- less than 1/100,000th the width of a human hair -- and also identify the specific atoms and molecules in samples.
The device is expected to be especially helpful to researchers in engineering, applied physics, chemistry, and geology and geoscience, and to serve as an important tool for advances in quantum computing, energy and sustainability research, and nearly all aspects of materials science.
"Our most recent acquisition of a powerful and versatile transmission electron microscope puts at the disposal of hundreds of Yale researchers capabilities formerly unavailable within a hundred miles of this campus," said Paul Fleury, a professor of applied physics who is the institute’s director. "Thanks to substantial and sustained support from the Yale Provost’s Office, and the outstanding leadership of YINQE’s facilities director, Michael Rooks, the laboratory now provides a full suite of state-of-the-art characterization facilities."
The institute, established in 2006 and located at the Malone Engineering Center, fosters collaboration among scientists in various disciplines who work on nano-scale research projects.
"When constructing structures on the nanometer scale, it is essential be able to see what one is doing," said Steve Girvin, deputy provost for science and technology and a professor of physics and applied physics. "This instrument provides that capability, not only producing images of the atomic structure but also providing valuable information on local chemical composition at each point in the image."
Yale has other transmission electron microscopes, including a relatively new one at the School of Medicine, but these are tailored for examining soft-tissues and other samples containing water. YINQE’s new microscope is configured for examining natural and fabricated hard materials, such as crystals, semiconductors and carbon nanotubes.
The new TEM also conducts chemical analysis more efficiently -- about 10 times faster than the medical school TEMs, according to Rooks, who holds a 1987 Yale Ph.D. in applied physics.