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Making x-ray microscopy 10 times faster

November 29, 2018
Source: ASM International

Scientists at the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II)—a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility at DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory—have developed a transmission x-ray microscope (TXM) that can image samples 10 times faster than previously possible.

at NSLS-II’s Full Field X-ray Imaging (FXI) beamline, where the microscope was built, Wah-Keat Lee, lead scientist and his colleagues reduced the time it takes a TXM to image samples in 3D from over 10 minutes to just one minute, while still producing images with exceptional 3D resolution—below 50 nanometers, or 50 billionths of a meter. Aside from reducing the time it takes to complete an experiment, a faster TXM can collect more valuable data from samples.

“The speed of these experiments is relevant because we want to observe changes that happen quickly. There are many structural and chemical changes that happen on different time scales, so a faster instrument can see a lot more. For example, we have the ability to track how corrosion happens in a material, or how well various parts of a battery are performing.”

The new microscope was developed in-house at Brookhaven Lab through a collaborative effort between the engineers, beamline staff, and research and development teams at NSLS-II.

The researchers said developing superfast capabilities at FXI also strongly depended on the advanced design of NSLS-II.

Using the new capabilities at FXI, the researchers imaged the growth of silver dendrites on a sliver of copper. In a single minute, the beamline captured 1060 2D images of the sample and reconstructed them to form a 3D snapshot of the reaction. Repeating this, the researchers were able to form a minute-by-minute, 3D animation of the chemical reaction.

Their research is published in Applied Physics Letters. FXI has begun its general user operations, welcoming researchers from around the world to use the beamline’s advanced capabilities.


Image – NSLS-II engineer Scott Coburn (left) and scientist Wah-Keat Lee (right) are shown at the Full Field X-ray Imaging beamline, where scientists and engineers have built a transmission x-ray microscope that can image samples 10 times faster than previously possible.


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Subject Classifications

Materials Properties and Performance | Corrosion

Materials Testing and Evaluation | Materials Characterization

Materials Testing and Evaluation | Metallography and Microstructures

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