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New microscopes will allow researchers to see small and think big

Standing beneath a pearly white, towering microscope called the JEOL NEOARM, Penn's Douglas Yates explains that scanning transmission electron microscopes are so powerful they can image down to the atomic level. These microscopes fire energetic electrons through the object being examined. This allows researchers to create an atomic-scale image through the interaction between the electrons and the atoms in the sample.

Penn’s NEOARM is the first in the United States. “This instrument is unique because it reaches the sub-angstrom level, down to 78 picometers,” says Yates, director of the Nanoscale Characterization Facility in Penn’s Singh Center for Nanotechnology. “We’re now in the sub-nanometer realm.”

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