Physicists around Oleg Shpyrko, UC San Diego, USA, have developed a new kind of X-ray microscope that can make minute details at the scale of a single nanometer visible. The images are not produced by a lens, but by means of a powerful computer program. A scanned series of dichroic coherent diffraction patterns is recorded and numerically inverted to map its magnetic domain configuration.
To test their microscope’s ability, the physicists imaged ferrimagnetic labyrinthine domains in a Gd/Fe multilayer with perpendicular anisotropy and followed the evolution of the domain structure through part of its magnetization hysteresis loop.
By tuning the X-ray energy, they also used the technique to look at different elements within materials, which is very important in chemistry. In biology, it can be used to image viruses, cells, and different kinds of tissues with a spatial resolution that is better than resolution available using visible light.
One immediate application of this lens-less X-ray microscope is the development of smaller data storage devices for computers that can hold more memory. The development should be also immediately applicable to other areas of nanoscience and nanotechnology.
- Dichroic coherent diffractive imaging,
Ashish Tripathia, Jyoti Mohantya, Sebastian H. Dietzea, Oleg G. Shpyrkoa, Erik Shiptona, Eric E. Fullertonc, Sang Soo Kimb, Ian McNultyb,
Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 2011.