Australian researchers have built the world’s first Scanning Helium Microscope (SHeM) to examine materials without disturbing them.
The SHeM was developed by the team of researchers from University of Newcastle (UON) led by Professor Paul Dastoor in collaboration with researchers from the University of Cambridge.
Working of SHeM
- SHeM possesses short De Broglie wavelength of the helium ions and very high source brightness.
- It enables to obtain high quality data which is not at all achievable with conventional microscopes which use photons or electrons as the emitting source.
SHeM vs Conventional microscopes
- The SHeM is an imaging technology based on a scanning helium ion beam to penetrate samples without damaging them. However, conventional electronic microscopes use light to penetrate samples, which has major drawback as it can damage them.
- Significance: The SHeM facilitate scientists to study human, animal, and plant samples, as well as pharmaceutical drugs and computer chips, without damaging or changing them. It will also provide new insights into structures at a microscopic level.
- Applications: SHeM will be useful in major industries such as defence, explosives, information technology and solar energy. It will also help in clean-up of toxic or radioactive spills, without harming the surrounding flora or fauna.