Rutgers and Nion Co. work to measure smallest vibrations

Powerful Microscope Could Transform Renewable Energy

Scientists at Rutgers University and a small Washington State company are collaborating on a state-of-the-art electron microscope that will produce an electron beam as tiny as the size of a hydrogen atom—the smallest atom known—and can study the inner workings of materials important in creating new sources of renewable energy.

The microscope is an "aberration corrected" electron microscope, a sophisticated system that corrects for lens distortions, until recent years a serious problem.

"We are developing new techniques that, hopefully, will enable industries important to energy self-sufficiency in the United States," said Philip Batson, research professor at the Institute for Advanced Materials, Devices and Nanotechnology at Rutgers. "And we're doing it with a small U.S. company in an area that has thus far been dominated by companies outside the United States."

Rutgers is working with the Nion Co., one of two companies, and the only one in the United States, capable of manufacturing aberration-corrected optics. "It's very hard to do, and we've only just begun to learn how to do it," Batson said.

The work is being funded by a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. For more in depth story click HERE

By Marlene Cimons, National Science Foundation