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Fulfilling Feynman’s dream: “Make the electron microscope 100 times better” – Are we there yet?

Stephen J. Pennycook (University of Tennessee)
Wed, 11/06/2014 - 11:00am to 12:00pm
S13-M01-11 (Physics Conference Room)
Event Type: 


In Feynman’s famous 1959 lecture “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom,” he challenged us to improve the electron microscope 100 times, so we could “just look at the thing.” Are we there yet? With the spectacular advances in aberration correction of the last decade, we have improved image resolution to well below 1Å and gained sensitivity to light atoms in both imaging and spectroscopy. But today’s microscope is only 20 times better than in Feynman’s time – and so we remain far from fulfilling his dream. We cannot just look at point defects and determine their three-dimensional configuration, or their diffusion pathways. Our lateral resolution still far exceeds the fundamental limit set by thermal vibrations, and our depth resolution remains in the nanometer range. In this talk I will show examples where further improvements in resolution would indeed enable us to “just look at the thing.”

Speaker's bio

Stephen J. Pennycook is a Professor in the Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Tennessee and the Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering, North Carolina State University. Before his retirement from Oak Ridge National Laboratory in December 2013 he was Corporate Fellow in the Materials Science and Technology Division and leader of the Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy Group. He received his PhD in physics from the Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge in 1978, joining Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 1982. Pennycook is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Microscopy Society of America, the Institute of Physics and the Materials Research Society, and is recipient of the Microbeam Analysis Society Heinrich Award, the Materials Research Society Medal, the Institute of Physics Thomas J. Young Medal and Award and the Materials Research Society Innovation in Characterization Award. He has 38 books and book chapters, over 400 publications in refereed journals and has given over 200 invited presentations on the development and application of atomic resolution Z-contrast microscopy and electron energy loss spectroscopy.

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