Scientists at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coherent X-ray Science (CXS) located at the University of Melbourne have developed a novel cold electron source that will increase the speed of nanoimaging for materials and drug development to a trillionth of a second as well as enhance its quality.
The research team led by Robert Scholten, who serves as Associate Professor at the CXS and the University of Melbourne’s School of Physics, extracted a beam of ultra-cold electrons utilizing lasers to chill atoms to a few millionths of a degree beyond absolute zero. The researchers produced beams in intricate shapes utilizing the technology and these beams can retain their shapes due the ultra-cold nature of the electrons.
According to Scholten, the new source of cold electrons offered prospective benefits in electron imaging at the nano or atomic scale and find applications in numerous industries, including health.
Scholten further said that improved nanoimaging by the new cold electron source will allow researchers to view a cell membrane protein’s structure and assist them to understand its functions, which in turn help them to design more targeted drugs. The nanoimaging will also assist researchers to observe the formation of cracks during the development of new materials for sophisticated technology like turbine blades for jet engines, he said. The experiment results disclosed that the new technology and cold electrons allowed researchers to capture the image of the entire sample at atomic resolution.