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'Nano scalpel' allows scientists to manipulate materials with nanometer precision

The team of scientists at Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron, or DESY, a German research center, say the multipurpose tool has a variety of scientific applications.

By Brooks Hays
'Nano scalpel' allows scientists to manipulate materials with nanometer precision
Scientists used their new "nano scalpel" Focused Ion Beam microscope for the precise arrangement of a double-staged diamond anvil cell. Photo by Leonid Dubrovinsky/University of Bayreuth

BAYREUTH, Germany, July 11 (UPI) -- For German researchers, the new Focused Ion Beam microscope serves as both magnifier and milling machine. The so-called nano scalpel allows researchers to precisely prepare samples for observation.

"The microscope is not only able to examine microscopic defects, cracks or point-like corrosion sites underneath the surfaces of materials, but also to machine the surface of samples with extremely high precision, on a nanometer scale," Maxim Bykov, a researcher from the University of Bayreuth, explained in a news release.

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The ion beam is what gives the microscope its scalpel-like abilities. The team of scientists at Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron, or DESY, a German research center, say the multipurpose tool has a variety of scientific applications.

"Apart from examining the structure of materials, the ability of the ion beam to remove material also leads to a wide range of different applications," said Natalia Dubrovinskaia, a professor at Bayreuth.

Researchers employed their new device in a separate experiment involving tiny diamond anvils. High-pressure experiments at DESY's Extreme Conditions Beamline require the precise arrangement of diamond anvil cells.

Scientists have also used the FIS microscope to analyze chemical composition signatures by measuring fluorescent radiation.

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"Together with the built-in milling machine, we can not only determine the three-dimensional structure, but also the distribution of the elements beneath the surface by alternately removing material and carrying out a chemical analysis, much like in 3D tomography," concluded Thomas Keller, head of microscopy and nano structuring at the DESY NanoLab.

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