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Scientists studying internal details of biological cells, semiconductors and virtually any material they don't want to destroy in the process may soon be able to use a new technique developed by researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
The method, outlined in Nature Nanotechnology Letters, allows them to see surface and sub-surface details with unprecedented resolution. At the heart of the technology is an atomic force microscope that uses a force-sensing cantilever with a sharp tip to measure the topography and a host of other properties.
Their concept, called mode-synthesizing atomic force microscopy, relies on multi-harmonic forcing of the sample and probe. "It is like paleontologists trying to find the shape of buried dinosaur skeletons using sound waves," said lead author Laurene Tetard. "Similarly, if we take a sample and mechanically shake it, then the probe can tell what's below the surface." Co-authors are Ali Passian and Thomas Thundat.
Funding for this research is provided by the Department of Energy's Office of Biological and Environmental Research within the Office of Science.
About Oak Ridge National Laboratory
ORNL is a multiprogram science and technology laboratory managed for the U.S. Department of Energy by UT-Battelle, LLC. Scientists and engineers at ORNL conduct basic and applied research and development to create scientific knowledge and technological solutions that strengthen the nation's leadership in key areas of science; increase the availability of clean, abundant energy; restore and protect the environment; and contribute to national security.
ORNL also performs other work for the Department of Energy, including isotope production, information management, and technical program management, and provides research and technical assistance to other organizations. The laboratory is a program of DOE's Oak Ridge Field Office.
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