Physicists take the most detailed image of atoms to date

Scientific American says that physicists beat Apple’s newest iPhone by using a device that magnifies images 100 million times to make the most accurate picture of atoms ever. Researchers who broke the record for the highest resolution microscope in 2018 went even further with a study that came out last month.

The sample was visualized using a method called electron ptychography. In this method, an electron beam is fired at an object and bounces off of it to make a scan. Algorithms then use this scan to create the image above. Before, this method could only be used to take pictures of things that were only a few atoms thick.

But the new study describes a way to take pictures of samples that are only 30 to 50 nanometers wide. This is a more than 10-fold improvement in resolution, they write in Science. The discovery could help make electronics and batteries work better, which requires seeing how they work at the atomic level.