This new microscope at the University of Victoria (UVic) was supposed to be unveiled in 2011 according to my July 28, 2009 posting about the purchase,
In other BC news, the University of Victoria (Canada) will be getting a new microscope which senses at subatomic levels. (From the media release on Azonano),
The new microscope-called a Scanning Transmission Electron Holography Microscope (STEHM) — will use an electron beam and holography techniques to observe the inside of materials and their surfaces to an expected resolution as small as one-fiftieth the size of an atom.
This is being done in collaboration with Hitachi High-Technologies which is building the microscope in Japan and installing it at U Vic in late 2010. The microscope will be located in a specially adapted room where work to prepare and calibrate it will continue until it becomes operational sometime in 2011.
I had been wondering if I’d ever hear of the microscope again, so finding a June 18, 2013 news item on Nanowerk announcing the world’s most powerful microscope at the University of Victoria (British Columbia, Canada) answered the question for me (Note: A link has been removed),
The world’s most powerful microscope, which resides in a specially constructed room at the University of Victoria, has now been fully assembled and tested, and has a lineup of scientists and businesses eager to use it.
The seven-tonne, 4.5-metre tall Scanning Transmission Electron Holography Microscope (STEHM), the first such microscope of its type in the world, came to the university in parts last year,. A team from Hitachi, which constructed the ultra high-resolution, ultra-stable instrument, spent one year painstakingly assembling the STEHM in a carefully controlled lab in the basement of the Bob Wright Centre.
The wait was worth it, says Rodney Herring, a professor of mechanical engineering and director of UVic’s Advanced Microscopy Facility. [emphasis mine]
The June 17, 2013 University of Victoria news release, which originated the news item, doesn’t address the two year delay directly as Herring’s quote seems to be in reference to the one-year assembly period. The news release goes on to describe the microscope’s resolution,
Herring viewed gold atoms through the microscope at a resolution of 35 picometres. One picometre is a trillionth of a metre. This resolution is much better than the previous best image with 49-picometre resolution taken at the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory in California, and is about 20 million times human sight.
The STEHM allows researchers to see the atoms in a manner never before possible. It has full analytical capabilities that can determine the types and number or elements present, and high-resolution cameras for collecting data.
It will be used by researchers of many science and engineering disciplines for projects requiring knowledge of small atomic scale structures (nanoscience) and nanotechnology. Dr. Vincenzo Grillo from the Istituto Nanoscienze Consiglio Nazionale Delle Ricerche in Modena [Italy] will be the first visiting researcher later this month.
A line-up seems to have formed (from the news release),
Local scientists and businesses are also eager to use it. Ned Djilali, a UVic professor of mechanical engineering, is working with the National Research Council, Ballard Power Systems in Vancouver and Mercedes-Benz on fuel cell research. The STEHM “opens up entirely new possibilities” in fuel cell technology, says Djilali.
Redlen Technologies, a local company that manufactures high resolution semiconductor radiation detectors that are used for such things as nuclear cardiology, CT scanning, baggage scanning and dirty bomb detection, has been waiting for the STEHM to open for the company’s research and development.
If you are curious but don’t have any special influence, you can find out about the microscope (and perhaps view it?) later this week (from the news release),
Herring will give details of the results at a microscopy conference this week at UVic, as well as during a talk Thursday, June 20, that is open to the public. [emphasis mine] It is from 4:30 to 5 p.m. at the Bob Wright Centre, in Flury Hall, room B150.
I don’t usually include funding information but since I am from British Columbia, I have more of an interest than usual (from the news release),
The STEHM microscope is supported by $9.2 million in funding from the government of Canada through the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, the BC Knowledge Development Fund and UVic, as well as significant in-kind support from Hitachi.
Since microscopes and big equipment (in general) are weirdly fascinating to me, here are some details from UVic’s STEHM backgrounder,
The Scanning Transmission Electron Holography Microscope (STEHM) is the highest resolution microscope ever built and the only one of its kind in the world. It’s arrival makes the University of Victoria a global leader in the competitive field of advanced microscopy.
Unlike conventional microscopes, which use light to peer at specimens, the STEHM uses an electron beam and holography techniques to observe the inside of materials and their surfaces to an expected resolution smaller than the size of an atom.
The STEHM will see materials beyond the nanoscale to the picoscale. A nanometer is one-billionth of a metre, while a picometre is one-trillionth of a metre. Atoms are typically between 62 and 520 picometres in diameter.
The STEHM will not only see individual atoms, but it will indicate what type of atoms they are. It also features an electron vortex beam, which researchers can use like tweezers to manipulate individual atoms in a specimen.
The microscope itself is a 4.5-metre tall cylinder encased in metal shielding to block magnetic fields. It has a footprint of six square metres and weighs seven tonnes.
The microscope is so huge that researchers will climb a stepladder to insert their specimens through a tiny airlock into the vacuum of the column. They’ll then leave the room, wait for the air currents in the room to calm, and then operate the microscope remotely from an adjoining room.
The microscope is so sensitive that its image could be affected by little more than a passing cloud. …
I don’t know how many times the public will have any access to this microscope given its extreme sensitivity so you might want to make a point of attending the public talk on Thursday, June 20, 2013 at the University of Victoria.
One final comment, I find it a bit disconcerting that the only ‘academic’ research mentioned seems to be Italian and that the ‘Canadian’ research is primarily commercial. It’s very nice that Dr. Herring saw a gold nanoparticle but are there any local or Canadian publicly funded academic researchers using this microscope, which seems to have been paid for by taxpayers? Hopefully, this is a case where excitement took over and the writer who almost always focuses on local, academic research got carried away with the international involvement and big name companies (Mercedes Benz).