Making X-Ray Microscopy 10 Times Faster

Transmission x-ray microscopes (TXM) can see into much higher-resolution samples, revealing extraordinary details. Researchers use TXM to examine their samples’ structural and chemical makeup. Scientists have now developed a TXM that can image samples ten times faster.

To provide these capabilities at FXI, the team needed to build a TXM that took advantage of the most recent advances in ultrafast nano-positioning (moving a sample while limiting vibrations), sensing (tracking sample movement), and control.

According to the researchers, developing superfast capabilities at FXI was also heavily reliant on the advanced design of NSLS-II.

The powerful x-ray source at NSLS-II contributes to FXI being more than ten times faster than any other instrument worldwide.

The researchers imaged the growth of silver dendrites on a sliver of copper using FXI’s new capabilities. The beamline captured 1060 2-D images of the sample in a single minute and reconstructed them to form a 3-D snapshot of the reaction. By repeating this process, the researchers created a minute-by-minute 3-D animation of the chemical reaction.

They chose to depict this reaction because it exemplifies FXI’s power. Although the reaction is well-known, it has never been visualized in 3-D with such a short acquisition time. Furthermore, our spatial resolution is 30 to 50 times finer than previous optical microscopy techniques.

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