R+D Magazine has recognized a tabletop microscope developed by a team of Colorado State University and Berkeley researchers at the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Science and Technology as one of the Top 100 most significant technological advances for 2008.
The team, which includes several graduate students, received the R&D 100 award on Oct. 16 in Chicago at a ceremony the Chicago Tribune calls "the Oscars of invention."
Colorado State University Professor Carmen Menoni led the team that developed the microscope using light from a unique extreme ultraviolet laser invented at Colorado State by Professor Jorge Rocca and collaborators and specialized lenses created at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Also contributing to the project are scientists from the Lebedev Physical Institute in Moscow who created mirrors used in the microscope.
The microscope uses pencil-like beams of light of wavelength 10 times shorter than visible light known as extreme ultraviolet light to "see" objects 1,000 times smaller than a human hair. It can also take single-shot flash images of the nanostructures, opening the possibility to make movies that track the dynamics of nanoscale objects.
In winning the competitive award, Colorado State University joins an elite group of winners that includes universities, national laboratories and national and international companies.
"The R&D 100 recognizes the word leadership in research innovation of the faculty and students at the NSF Extreme Ultraviolet Science and Technology Center. Winning this award is a terrific accomplishment," said Bill Farland, vice president for Research.
The EUV microscope has a number of unique features for exploration and characterization of nanoscale objects. Using the high brightness of the EUV laser allows "stop-action" image capture on the time scale of a billionth of a second (one nanosecond). Unlike electron microscopes, it allows imaging of objects in the midst of applied electromagnetic fields. No other compact imaging instrument allows these capabilities at comparable resolutions.
This research is part of the work conducted at the Engineering Research Center for Extreme Ultraviolet Science and Technology that is supported by a $4 million per year grant from the National Science Foundation. The center combines the complementary expertise of researchers at Colorado State, Berkeley and the University of Colorado-Boulder who are among the world leaders in developing compact extreme ultraviolet coherent light sources and optical systems for nanoscience and nanotechnology applications. Several of the largest computer chip manufacturers, as well as laser, optics and nanotechnology companies, are industrial members of the center.