Through different eyes... Forty years of nuclear microscopy at the micrometre scale
published: Jan. 15, 2020, recorded: January 2020, views: 25
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2020 marks the fortieth anniversary of the first published images using ion beam analysis (IBA) at a spatial resolution of 1 micrometre. IBA exploits the reaction products emitted when samples are exposed to a beam of megaelectron volt ions from a small nuclear accelerator. These include light and X-rays from atomic electrons, particles and gamma rays from the nuclei and forward or backward scattered beam particles. These can provide elemental concentrations with high sensitivity, specificity and accuracy. In many cases, depth profiles, structural and chemical information can also be measured. In the late 1970s, our group in Oxford developed the techniques for focusing high energy ion beams to micrometre size diameters and so produced the first imaging nuclear microprobe. Now the technique is available in laboratories across the world and is applied in fields ranging from archaeology to zoology. In this talk, we will outline the background and history of the nuclear microprobe and describe two recent projects carried out at the University of Surrey which highlight the wide range of applications: the reconstruction of the lost image on a weathered stained-glass window and identifying the metal atoms in protein molecules.
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