Scientists First Time Take Image of a Single Atom Using X-Rays:
A groundbreaking achievement has been made by a team of scientists, including researchers from Ohio University, Argonne National Laboratory, and the University of Illinois-Chicago. Led by Professor Saw Wai Hla, the team successfully captured the first-ever image of a single atom using X-rays. This remarkable feat was accomplished through the utilization of an innovative technique known as synchrotron X-ray scanning tunneling microscopy (SX-STM), which enables the identification and analysis of individual atoms. The project, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Basic Energy Sciences, holds tremendous potential for transforming environmental, medical, and quantum research.
X-rays have played a pivotal role in various domains since their discovery in 1895, ranging from medical examinations and security screenings to the analysis of Martian materials. One significant scientific application of X-rays involves determining the composition of substances within a sample. Over the years, advancements in synchrotron X-ray sources and instruments have significantly reduced the amount of sample required for X-ray detection. However, detecting a single atom using X-rays has remained a formidable challenge due to the exceedingly weak signal generated by an individual atom. Traditional X-ray detectors lack the sensitivity necessary to capture such faint signals.
Professor Hla expressed that the ability to X-ray a single atom has long been a goal for scientists, and his research team has now turned this dream into a reality. Leveraging synchrotron X-ray scanning tunneling microscopy, they successfully captured the X-ray signature of a single atom, marking a significant milestone in the realm of X-ray detection. This breakthrough opens up new avenues for scientific exploration and holds far-reaching implications across various fields of study.