Instrumentation: 3 electron microscopes to support nanotechnology research


Commercialization of nanotechnology products got a boost recently when a California research institute specified three sophisticated microscopes for nanotechnology research. The instruments will be a resource for more than a dozen major users and other secondary users with federal funded research projects. The first two systems are expected to ship in the first half of 2007; the third is expected in the fourth quarter.

The advanced transmission electron microscopes will become part of the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) at UCLA, which will use the equipment for its Electron Imaging Center for NanoMachines core laboratory. The devices, all from FEI Co., include a 300-kV Titan S/TEM (scanning/transmission electron microscope), a second 300-kV Titan optimized for high-resolution structural biology applications, and a 200-kV Tecnai TF20 for high-throughput electron tomographic studies. FEI provides instruments for nanoscale imaging, analysis, and prototyping.

The mission of CNSI is to encourage university/industry collaboration and to enable the rapid commercialization of discoveries in nanosystems. Work at CNSI targets several areas of nanosystems-related research: energy, environment, and nanotoxicology; nanobiotechnology and biomaterials; nanomechanical and nanofluidic systems; and nanoelectronics, phonics, and architectonics.

“Seeing molecules, materials, and molecular machines in three dimensions is critical to nanoscience,” said Hong Zhou, faculty director of the Electron Imaging Center for NanoMachines. “With these microscopes, we will be able to image, characterize, and analyze structures down to the atomic scale delivering valuable three-dimensional structural information for cell biological, molecular, and materials sciences.”

Electron imaging represents very powerful and indispensable modern tools for biologists, nano-materials scientists, and engineers, said the UCLA research group. Cryo-electron cryomicrosopy plays an increasingly important role in determining sub-nanometer-resolution structures of macromolecular complexes or biological nano-machines, it noted. At this resolution, secondary structural elements are readily recognizable and used to build atomic models through integrated modeling approaches.

High-resolution electron tomography and other imaging modalities allow the 3D visualization of internal structures and compositions of novel materials and nano devices at an atomic level, permitting a better understanding of the mechanisms of their action and suggest ways to improve designs, said CNSI officials.

Read more about nanotechnology and electron microscopes from Control Engineering :

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Edited by Jeanine Katzel,

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