Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > New kind of microscope uses neutrons: Device could open up new areas of research on materials and biological samples at tiny scales


The team's small prototype neutron microscope is shown set up for initial testing at MIT's Nuclear Reactor Laboratory. The microscope mirrors are inside the small metal box at top right.
Photo courtesy of the researchers
The team's small prototype neutron microscope is shown set up for initial testing at MIT's Nuclear Reactor Laboratory. The microscope mirrors are inside the small metal box at top right.

Photo courtesy of the researchers

Abstract:
Researchers at MIT, working with partners at NASA, have developed a new concept for a microscope that would use neutrons subatomic particles with no electrical charge instead of beams of light or electrons to create high-resolution images.

New kind of microscope uses neutrons: Device could open up new areas of research on materials and biological samples at tiny scales

Cambridge, MA | Posted on October 4th, 2013

Among other features, neutron-based instruments have the ability to probe inside metal objects such as fuel cells, batteries, and engines, even when in use to learn details of their internal structure. Neutron instruments are also uniquely sensitive to magnetic properties and to lighter elements that are important in biological materials.

The new concept has been outlined in a series of research papers this year, including one published this week in Nature Communications by MIT postdoc Dazhi Liu, research scientist Boris Khaykovich, professor David Moncton, and four others.

Moncton, an adjunct professor of physics and director of MIT's Nuclear Reactor Laboratory, says that Khaykovich first proposed the idea of adapting a 60-year-old concept for a way of focusing X-rays using mirrors to the challenge of building a high-performing neutron microscope. Until now, most neutron instruments have been akin to pinhole cameras: crude imaging systems that simply let light through a tiny opening. Without efficient optical components, such devices produce weak images with poor resolution.

Beyond the pinhole

"For neutrons, there have been no high-quality focusing devices," Moncton says. "Essentially all of the neutron instruments developed over a half-century are effectively pinhole cameras." But with this new advance, he says, "We are turning the field of neutron imaging from the era of pinhole cameras to an era of genuine optics."

"The new mirror device acts like the image-forming lens of an optical microscope," Liu adds.

Because neutrons interact only minimally with matter, it's difficult to focus beams of them to create a telescope or microscope. But a basic concept was proposed, for X-rays, by Hans Wolter in 1952 and later developed, under the auspices of NASA, for telescopes such as the orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory (which was designed and is managed by scientists at MIT). Neutron beams interact weakly, much like X-rays, and can be focused by a similar optical system.

It's well known that light can be reflected by normally nonreflective surfaces, so long as it strikes that surface at a shallow angle; this is the basic physics of a desert mirage. Using the same principle, mirrors with certain coatings can reflect neutrons at shallow angles.

A sharper, smaller device

The actual instrument uses several reflective cylinders nested one inside the other, so as to increase the surface area available for reflection. The resulting device could improve the performance of existing neutron imaging systems by a factor of about 50, the researchers say allowing for much sharper images, much smaller instruments, or both.

The team initially designed and optimized the concept digitally, then fabricated a small test instrument as a proof-of-principle and demonstrated its performance using a neutron beam facility at MIT's Nuclear Reactor Laboratory. Later work, requiring a different spectrum of neutron energies, was carried out at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Such a new instrument could be used to observe and characterize many kinds of materials and biological samples; other nonimaging methods that exploit the scattering of neutrons might benefit as well. Because the neutron beams are relatively low-energy, they are "a much more sensitive scattering probe," Moncton says, for phenomena such as "how atoms or magnetic moments move in a material."

The researchers next plan to build an optimized neutron-microscopy system in collaboration with NIST, which already has a major neutron-beam research facility. This new instrument is expected to cost a few million dollars.

Moncton points out that a recent major advance in the field was the construction of a $1.4 billion facility that provides a tenfold increase in neutron flux. "Given the cost of producing the neutron beams, it is essential to equip them with the most efficient optics possible," he says.

In addition to the researchers at MIT, the team included Mikhail Gubarev and Brian Ramsey of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and Lee Robertson and Lowell Crow of ORNL. The work was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Written by: David L. Chandler, MIT News Office

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Sarah McDonnell

617-253-8923

Copyright © Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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

Camouflaged nanoparticles used to deliver killer protein to cancer June 17th, 2018

Squeezing light at the nanoscale: Ultra-confined light could detect harmful molecules June 17th, 2018

Physicists devise method to reveal how light affects materials: The new method adds to the understanding of the fundamental laws governing the interaction of electrons and light June 15th, 2018

Tripling the Energy Storage of Lithium-Ion Batteries: Scientists have synthesized a new cathode material from iron fluoride that surpasses the capacity limits of traditional lithium-ion batteries June 14th, 2018

Nickel ferrite promotes capacity and cycle stability of lithium-sulfur battery June 13th, 2018

Laboratories

Tripling the Energy Storage of Lithium-Ion Batteries: Scientists have synthesized a new cathode material from iron fluoride that surpasses the capacity limits of traditional lithium-ion batteries June 14th, 2018

Evidence for a new property of quantum matter revealed: Electrical dipole activity detected in a quantum material unlike any other tested June 11th, 2018

Imaging

New optical sensor can determine if molecules are left or right 'handed' June 13th, 2018

Nano-saturn: Supramolecular complex formation: Anthracene macrocycle and C60 fullerene June 8th, 2018

Scientists use photonic chip to make virtual movies of molecular motion June 6th, 2018

Physics

Evidence for a new property of quantum matter revealed: Electrical dipole activity detected in a quantum material unlike any other tested June 11th, 2018

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Camouflaged nanoparticles used to deliver killer protein to cancer June 17th, 2018

Squeezing light at the nanoscale: Ultra-confined light could detect harmful molecules June 17th, 2018

Tripling the Energy Storage of Lithium-Ion Batteries: Scientists have synthesized a new cathode material from iron fluoride that surpasses the capacity limits of traditional lithium-ion batteries June 14th, 2018

New optical sensor can determine if molecules are left or right 'handed' June 13th, 2018

Discoveries

Camouflaged nanoparticles used to deliver killer protein to cancer June 17th, 2018

Squeezing light at the nanoscale: Ultra-confined light could detect harmful molecules June 17th, 2018

Physicists devise method to reveal how light affects materials: The new method adds to the understanding of the fundamental laws governing the interaction of electrons and light June 15th, 2018

Tripling the Energy Storage of Lithium-Ion Batteries: Scientists have synthesized a new cathode material from iron fluoride that surpasses the capacity limits of traditional lithium-ion batteries June 14th, 2018

Announcements

Camouflaged nanoparticles used to deliver killer protein to cancer June 17th, 2018

Squeezing light at the nanoscale: Ultra-confined light could detect harmful molecules June 17th, 2018

Physicists devise method to reveal how light affects materials: The new method adds to the understanding of the fundamental laws governing the interaction of electrons and light June 15th, 2018

Tripling the Energy Storage of Lithium-Ion Batteries: Scientists have synthesized a new cathode material from iron fluoride that surpasses the capacity limits of traditional lithium-ion batteries June 14th, 2018

Tools

Nanometrics Updates Time of Webcast at Stifel 2018 Cross Sector Insight Conference June 12th, 2018

Nano-saturn: Supramolecular complex formation: Anthracene macrocycle and C60 fullerene June 8th, 2018

Detecting the birth and death of a phonon June 7th, 2018

Scientists use photonic chip to make virtual movies of molecular motion June 6th, 2018

Aerospace/Space

Disability Can Be a Superpower in Space Disabled astronauts offer unique solutions to emergencies in space May 17th, 2018

SpaceX Founding Employee Tom Mueller to Speak at International Space Development Conference May 15th, 2018

Shrimp, Soybeans, and Tomatoes Top the Menu in Cities in Space May 10th, 2018

National Space Society Applauds NASA's Support for Commercial Low Earth Orbit Space Stations May 2nd, 2018

Alliances/Trade associations/Partnerships/Distributorships

Leti and Cellmic Join Forces to Speed Market Adoption of Lens-Free Imaging and Sensing Techniques May 3rd, 2018

Nanobiotix and Weill Cornell Medicine Partner on Pre-Clinical Research Inbox x May 3rd, 2018

New era in high field superconducting magnets opening new frontiers in science, nanotechnology and materials discovery January 9th, 2018

Leti Field Trials Demonstrate New Multicarrier Waveform for Rural, Maritime Broadband Radio: Field Trial in Orkney Islands Used New Filtered Multicarrier Waveform at 700MHz Band with Flexible Bandwidth Usage (Fragmented and Continuous Spectrum) December 18th, 2017

Research partnerships

Evidence for a new property of quantum matter revealed: Electrical dipole activity detected in a quantum material unlike any other tested June 11th, 2018

Scientists use photonic chip to make virtual movies of molecular motion June 6th, 2018

Quantum Interference May Be Key to Smaller Insulators: Breakthrough could jumpstart further miniaturization of transistors June 6th, 2018

Tunable diamond string may hold key to quantum memory: A process similar to guitar tuning improves storage time of quantum memory May 24th, 2018

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



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project