Rutgers is now the only university in the world that's home to both a scanning transmission electron microscope and a helium ion microscope. The microscopes help researchers develop nanotechnology used to fight cancer, generate power, and create more powerful electronics.
NSF provided a more than $1.6 million grant for the helium ion microscope (HIM), a vital tool to reliably perform analysis and modification of nanoscale materials, which have an enormous impact on basic and applied science. (pictured: leaf epidermis under SEM; courtesy of wikimedia)
“The helium ion microscope is a novel instrument with unprecedented capability for imaging surfaces,” said Rutgers Physics Prof. Torgny Gustafsson, principal investigator in the development of HIM. “From drug delivery to the creation of nanometer orifices to explore DNA sequencing and the formation of quantum structures for advanced computing and communications, the discoveries of new science and technologies with the helium ion microscope are limitless.”
Materials and life science research are continually pushing toward finer scales for characterization in order to understand and manipulate properties. The structural failures that begin at the nano-scale, for example, often determine the material strength limit at the macro-scale. Biological functions, too, are defined by chemical and structural processes occurring at the nano-scale. Observation and measurement requirements are now sometimes exceeding what can be obtained with electron microscopy. The helium ion microscope offers benefits in resolution, material contrast, charge control, and surface sensitivity, providing unique image information that complements or exceeds that from an SEM (scanning electron microscope).
The difference between using a light microscope and electron and helium ion microscopes is equivalent to looking at the moon with a pair of binoculars as opposed to looking at the moon with the Hubble telescope.
Here's an exciting video about the new technology.
Laboratory equipment like the helium ion microscope are obtained through grants and awards that universities like Rutgers receive for research and development. Rutgers, for one, spends more than $430 million annually in research and development for life sciences according to Rutgers Today.
Biotechnology Calendar Inc. is hosting it's 1st annual BioResearch Product Faire™ at Rugers University in May 2015. This networking opportunity brings life science researchers together with laboratory equipment suppliers to discuss the latest technologies in lab science. For information on exhibiting, click the button below.