X-ray microscopy technique makes fluctuations inside of materials visible

Microscopic X-ray view

Image of the experimental setup: The test object is moved with nanometer precision through the X-ray beam. The scattered X-rays are captured by a detector. The scattering images are then reconstructed to an image of the sample.
Experimental setup: The test object is moved with nanometer precision through the X-ray beam. The scattered X-rays are captured by a detector. The scattering images are then reconstructed to an image of the sample.

06.02.2013,  Research news

X-ray microscopy requires radiation of extremely high quality. In order to obtain sharp images instrument and sample must stay absolutely immobile even at the nanometer scale during the recording. Researchers at the Technische Universität München and the Paul Scherrer Institute in Villigen (Switzerland), have now developed a method that relaxes these hard restrictions. Even fluctuations in the material can be visualized. The renowned journal Nature now reports on their results.

Pierre Thibault of the Technische Universität München and Andreas Menzel, scientist at the Paul Scherrer Institute (Villigen, Switzerland) have now developed an interpretation method that produces reliable images in spite of vibrations of the microscope and even measures fluctuations in the sample itself.

One possible application is to analyze the changing magnetization of individual bits in magnetic storage media and their thermal fluctuations, which ultimately determine the lifetime of magnetic data storage.

Comparison of the new technology and the conventional technology: The left picture, taken with conventional technology, is noisy. Details are not shown reliably. The new method shows highly improved image quality.
Compared to a recording with conventional technology (left) the new method (right) shows highly improved image quality.

Desk: Dr. Andreas Battenberg



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