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Australian researchers built world’s first scanning helium microscope

The microscope would enable scientists to study human, animal and plant samples, as well as pharmaceutical drugs and computer chips in their true state.

May 17, 2016 16:00 IST
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Australian researchers built the world’s first scanning helium microscope (SHeM). An announcement in this regard was made by the scientists belonging to the University of Newcastle in the third week of May 2016.

Features of SHeM

• It would enable scientists to study human, animal and plant samples, as well as pharmaceutical drugs and computer chips in their true state.

• It is expected to provide new insights into structures at a microscopic level.

• It will be useful in major industries such as solar energy, defence, explosives and information technology.

• It will help with the clean-up of toxic or even radioactive spills, without harming the surrounding flora or fauna.

Conventional microscopes Vs SHeM

The conventional electronic microscopes use light to penetrate samples and this can damage them. The SHeM is an imaging technology based on a scanning helium ion beam.

SHeM possesses very high source brightness and the short De Broglie wavelength of the helium ions. Due to this, it is possible to obtain qualitative data not achievable with conventional microscopes which use photons or electrons as the emitting source.

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