Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Pushing X-rays to the Edge to Draw the Nanoworld into Focus: A new x-ray imaging technique yields unprecedented measurements of nanoscale structures

This rendering shows the high-intensity x-ray beam striking and then traveling through the gray sample material. In this new technique, the x-ray scattering—the blue and white ripples—is considerably less distorted than in other methods, producing superior images with less complex analysis.
This rendering shows the high-intensity x-ray beam striking and then traveling through the gray sample material. In this new technique, the x-ray scattering—the blue and white ripples—is considerably less distorted than in other methods, producing superior images with less complex analysis.

Abstract:
Photographers rely on precision lenses to generate well-focused and crystal-clear images. These high-quality optics—readily available and produced in huge quantities—are often taken for granted. But as scientists explore the details of materials spanning just billionths of a meter, engineering the nanoscale equivalent of a camera lens becomes notoriously difficult.

Pushing X-rays to the Edge to Draw the Nanoworld into Focus: A new x-ray imaging technique yields unprecedented measurements of nanoscale structures

Upton, NY | Posted on March 11th, 2013

Instead of working with polished glass, physicists must use ingenious tricks, including shooting concentrated beams of x-rays directly into materials. These samples then act as light-bending lenses, and the x-ray deflections can be used to deduce the material's nanostructures. Unfortunately, the multilayered internal structures of real materials bend light in extremely complex and unexpected ways. When scientists grapple with this kind of warped imagery, they use elaborate computer calculations to correct for the optical obstacles found on the nanoscale and create detailed visual models.

Now, owing to a happy accident and subsequent insight, researchers at the US Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory have developed a new and strikingly simple x-ray scattering technique—detailed in the February issue of the Journal of Applied Crystallography—to help draw nanomaterials ranging from catalysts to proteins into greater focus.

"During an experiment, we noticed that one of the samples was misaligned," said physicist Kevin Yager, a coauthor on the new study. "Our x-ray beam was hitting the edge, not the center as is typically desired. But when we saw how clean and undistorted the data was, we immediately realized that this could be a huge advantage in measuring nanostructures."

This serendipitous discovery at Brookhaven's National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS) led to the development of a breakthrough imaging technique called Grazing-Transmission Small Angle X-ray Scattering (GTSAXS). The new method requires considerably less correction and a much simpler analysis, resulting in superior images with profound implications for future advances in materials science.

"Conventional scattering produces images that are 'distorted'—the data you want is there, but it's stretched, compressed, and multiply scattered in complicated ways as the x-rays enter and exit the sample," said physicist and coauthor Ben Ocko. "Our insight was that undistorted scattering rays were emitted inside the sample—but they usually get absorbed as they travel through the substrate. By moving the sample and beam near the edge of the substrate, we allow this undistorted scattering to escape and reach the detector."

The Brookhaven Lab collaboration was not the first group to encounter the diffraction that occurs along a material's edge, but it was the first to reconsider and harness the unexpected error.

"Until now, no one bothered to dig into the details, and figure out how to use it as a measurement technique, rather than as a misalignment to be corrected," added Xinhui Lu, the lead author of the study.

GTSAXS, like other scattering techniques, offers a complement to other imaging processes because it can measure the average structure throughout a sample, rather than just pinpointing selected areas. Scattering also offers an ideal method for the real-time studies of nanoscale changes and reactions such as the propagation of water through soft nanomaterials.

"This technique is broadly applicable to any nanostructure sitting on a flat substrate," said study coauthor Chuck Black. "Lithographic patterns, catalytic nanoparticles, self-assembled polymers, etc.—they can all be studied. This technique should be particularly powerful for very thin films with complicated three-dimensional structures, which to date have been difficult to study."

Brookhaven's NSLS supplies the intense x-ray beams essential to this technique, which requires extremely short wavelengths to interact with nanoscale materials. At NSLS, accelerated electrons emit these high-energy photons, which are then channeled down a beamline and focused to precisely strike the target material. When the next generation light source, NSLS-II, opens in 2014, GTSAXS will offer even greater experimental potential.

"We look forward to implementing this technique at NSLS-II," Yager said, with Ocko adding: "The excellent beam focusing should enable us to probe the near-edge region more effectively, making GTSAXS even more robust."

The research was funded by the DOE's Office of Science and conducted at both NSLS and Brookhaven Lab's Center for Functional Nanomaterials — the Office of Science supports both of these leading facilities.

DOE's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.

####

About Brookhaven National Laboratory
Brookhaven National Laboratory is a multipurpose research institution funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. Located on Long Island, NY, Brookhaven operates large-scale facilities for studies in physics, chemistry, biology, medicine, applied science, and advanced technology. The Laboratory's almost 3,000 scientists, engineers, and support staff are joined each year by more than 5,000 visiting researchers from around the world.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Justin Eure

Copyright © Brookhaven National Laboratory

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Nanoscale view of energy storage January 16th, 2017

Seeing the quantum future... literally: What if big data could help you see the future and prevent your mobile phone from breaking before it happened? January 16th, 2017

NUS researchers achieve major breakthrough in flexible electronics: New classes of printable electrically conducting polymer materials make better electrodes for plastic electronics and advanced semiconductor devices January 14th, 2017

Manchester scientists tie the tightest knot ever achieved January 13th, 2017

Laboratories

Nanoscale view of energy storage January 16th, 2017

Nanoscale 'conversations' create complex, multi-layered structures: New technique leverages controlled interactions across surfaces to create self-assembled materials with unprecedented complexity December 22nd, 2016

Physics

Seeing the quantum future... literally: What if big data could help you see the future and prevent your mobile phone from breaking before it happened? January 16th, 2017

Diamonds are technologists' best friends: Researchers from the Lomonosov Moscow State University have grown needle- and thread-like diamonds and studied their useful properties December 30th, 2016

Imaging

Distinguishing truth under the surface: electrostatic or mechanic December 31st, 2016

Nanoscale 'conversations' create complex, multi-layered structures: New technique leverages controlled interactions across surfaces to create self-assembled materials with unprecedented complexity December 22nd, 2016

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Nanoscale view of energy storage January 16th, 2017

Chemistry on the edge: Experiments at Berkeley Lab confirm that structural defects at the periphery are key in catalyst function January 13th, 2017

Recreating conditions inside stars with compact lasers: Scientists offer a new path to creating the extreme conditions found in stars, using ultra-short laser pulses irradiating nanowires January 12th, 2017

New laser based on unusual physics phenomenon could improve telecommunications, computing January 12th, 2017

Self Assembly

Manchester scientists tie the tightest knot ever achieved January 13th, 2017

Captured on video: DNA nanotubes build a bridge between 2 molecular posts: Research may lead to new lines of direct communication with cells January 9th, 2017

Researchers fabricate high performance Cu(OH)2 supercapacitor electrodes December 29th, 2016

Nanoscale 'conversations' create complex, multi-layered structures: New technique leverages controlled interactions across surfaces to create self-assembled materials with unprecedented complexity December 22nd, 2016

Discoveries

Nanoscale view of energy storage January 16th, 2017

Seeing the quantum future... literally: What if big data could help you see the future and prevent your mobile phone from breaking before it happened? January 16th, 2017

NUS researchers achieve major breakthrough in flexible electronics: New classes of printable electrically conducting polymer materials make better electrodes for plastic electronics and advanced semiconductor devices January 14th, 2017

Nanoscale Modifications can be used to Engineer Electrical Contacts for Nanodevices January 13th, 2017

Materials/Metamaterials

NUS researchers achieve major breakthrough in flexible electronics: New classes of printable electrically conducting polymer materials make better electrodes for plastic electronics and advanced semiconductor devices January 14th, 2017

Manchester scientists tie the tightest knot ever achieved January 13th, 2017

Nanoscale Modifications can be used to Engineer Electrical Contacts for Nanodevices January 13th, 2017

Deciphering the beetle exoskeleton with nanomechanics: Understanding exoskeletons could lead to new, improved artificial materials January 12th, 2017

Announcements

Nanoscale view of energy storage January 16th, 2017

Seeing the quantum future... literally: What if big data could help you see the future and prevent your mobile phone from breaking before it happened? January 16th, 2017

NUS researchers achieve major breakthrough in flexible electronics: New classes of printable electrically conducting polymer materials make better electrodes for plastic electronics and advanced semiconductor devices January 14th, 2017

Nanoscale Modifications can be used to Engineer Electrical Contacts for Nanodevices January 13th, 2017

Tools

Distinguishing truth under the surface: electrostatic or mechanic December 31st, 2016

Nanomechanics Inc. Continues Growth in Revenue and Market Penetration: Leading nanoindentation company reports continued growth in revenues and distribution channels on national and international scales December 27th, 2016

Nanometrics to Present at the 19th Annual Needham Growth Conference December 22nd, 2016

Safe and inexpensive hydrogen production as a future energy source: Osaka University researchers develop efficient 'green' hydrogen production system that operates at room temperature in air December 21st, 2016

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project