Atomic de Broglie microscope

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The instrument on the right performs atomic force microscopy to measure surface characteristics and imaging for semiconductor wafers, lithography masks, magnetic media, CDs/DVDs, biomaterials, optics, among a multitude of other samples. The scientist at the left works for the Center for Nanoscale Materials at Argonne National Laboratory.

The atomic de Broglie microscope (also atomic nanoscope, neutral beam microscope, or scanning helium microscope when helium is used as the probing atom) is an imaging system which is expected to provide resolution at the nanometer scale. Sometimes people call it the nano-scope.


The resolution of optical microscopes is limited to a few hundred nanometers by the wave properties of the light.

The idea of imaging with atoms instead of light is widely discussed in the literature since the past century.[1][2][3][4][5] Atom optics using neutral atoms instead of light could provide resolution as good as the electron microscope and be completely non-destructive, because short wavelengths on the order of a nanometer can be realized at low energy of the probing particles. "It follows that a helium microscope with nanometer resolution is possible. A helium atom microscope will be [a] unique non-destructive tool for reflection or transmission microscopy."[4]

Focusing of neutral atoms[edit]

Currently, the atom-optic imaging systems are not competitive with electron microscopy and various types of near-field probe. The main problem in the optics of atomic beams for an imaging system is the focusing element. There is no material transparent to the beam of low-energy atoms. A Fresnel zone plate [5] and evanescent field lens [6] were suggested, as well as various atomic mirrors.[7][8][9] Such mirrors use the quantum reflection by Casimir–van der Waals potential tails.[10]

Ridged mirrors[edit]

Recently, the performance of solid-state atomic mirrors was greatly enhanced with so-called ridged mirrors (or Fresnel diffraction mirrors).[11][12][13][14][15] The specular reflection of an atomic wave from a ridged mirror can be interpreted as spatial Zeno effect.[13] At the appropriate ellipsoidal profile, such a mirror could be used for focusing of an atomic beam into a spot of some tens of nanometers;[16] the scattering of atoms from this spot brings the image of the object, like in the scanning confocal microscope, scanning electron microscope, or scanning probe microscopy.

The scheme shown in the picture is one possibility. A similar scheme is posted at the homepage of the University of Cambridge;[17] see an additional list of references there. Such an imaging system could also be realized with holographic, Fresnel diffraction, and evanescent wave systems. Some of such systems may become competitive with established methods of visualization and measuring of nano-objects. See the overview at Nanowiki (Nanotechnology).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Poelsema, Bene (1989). Scattering of Thermal Energy Atoms from Disordered Surfaces. Berlin: Springer-Verlag. ISBN 0-387-50358-7. 
  2. ^ Hulpke, Erika (1992). Helium Atom Scattering from Surfaces. Berlin: Springer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-540-54605-4. 
  3. ^ Berkhout, J.; Luiten, O.; Setija, I.; Hijmans, T.; Mizusaki, T.; Walraven, J. (1989). "Quantum reflection: Focusing of hydrogen atoms with a concave mirror". Physical Review Letters. 63 (16): 1689–1692. Bibcode:1989PhRvL..63.1689B. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.63.1689. PMID 10040645. 
  4. ^ a b Holst, B.; Allison, W. (1997). "An atom-focusing mirror". Nature. 390 (6657): 244. Bibcode:1997Natur.390..244H. doi:10.1038/36769. 
  5. ^ a b Doak, R.; Grisenti, R.; Rehbein, S.; Schmahl, G.; Toennies, J.; W ll, C. (1999). "Towards Realization of an Atomic de Broglie Microscope: Helium Atom Focusing Using Fresnel Zone Plates". Physical Review Letters. 83 (21): 4229. Bibcode:1999PhRvL..83.4229D. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.83.4229. 
  6. ^ Balykin, V.; Klimov, V.; Letokhov, V. (2005). "Atom Nano-Optics". Optics and Photonics News. 16: 44. Bibcode:2005OptPN..16...44B. doi:10.1364/OPN.16.3.000044. 
  7. ^ Shimizu, F. (2001). "Specular Reflection of Very Slow Metastable Neon Atoms from a Solid Surface". Physical Review Letters. 86 (6): 987–990. Bibcode:2001PhRvL..86..987S. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.86.987. PMID 11177991. 
  8. ^ Oberst, H.; Kasashima, S.; Balykin, V.; Shimizu, F. (2003). "Atomic-matter-wave scanner". Physical Review A. 68. arXiv:physics/0210036Freely accessible. Bibcode:2003PhRvA..68a3606O. doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.68.013606. 
  9. ^ Oberst, H.; Tashiro, Y.; Shimizu, K.; Shimizu, F. (2005). "Quantum reflection of He^{*} on silicon". Physical Review A. 71. Bibcode:2005PhRvA..71e2901O. doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.71.052901. 
  10. ^ Friedrich, H.; Jacoby, G.; Meister, C. G. (2002). "Quantum reflection by Casimir–van der Waals potential tails". Physical Review A. 65. Bibcode:2002PhRvA..65c2902F. doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.65.032902. 
  11. ^ Shimizu, F.; Fujita, J. I. (2002). "Giant Quantum Reflection of Neon Atoms from a Ridged Silicon Surface". Journal of the Physical Society of Japan. 71: 5–8. arXiv:physics/0111115Freely accessible. Bibcode:2002JPSJ...71....5S. doi:10.1143/JPSJ.71.5. 
  12. ^ Shimizu, F.; Fujita, J. I. (2002). "Reflection-Type Hologram for Atoms". Physical Review Letters. 88: 123201. Bibcode:2002PhRvL..88l3201S. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.88.123201. PMID 11909457. 
  13. ^ a b Kouznetsov, D.; Oberst, H. (2005). "Reflection of Waves from a Ridged Surface and the Zeno Effect". Optical Review. 12 (5): 363–366. Bibcode:2005OptRv..12..363K. doi:10.1007/s10043-005-0363-9. 
  14. ^ Kouznetsov, D.; Oberst, H. (2005). "Scattering of atomic matter waves from ridged surfaces". Physical Review A. 72. Bibcode:2005PhRvA..72a3617K. doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.72.013617. 
  15. ^ Oberst, H.; Kouznetsov, D.; Shimizu, K.; Fujita, J. I.; Shimizu, F. (2005). "Fresnel Diffraction Mirror for an Atomic Wave". Physical Review Letters. 94: 013203. Bibcode:2005PhRvL..94a3203O. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.94.013203. PMID 15698079. 
  16. ^ Kouznetsov, D.; Oberst, H.; Neumann, A.; Kuznetsova, Y.; Shimizu, K.; Bisson, J. F.; Ueda, K.; Brueck, S. R. J. (2006). "Ridged atomic mirrors and atomic nanoscope". Journal of Physics B: Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics. 39 (7): 1605. Bibcode:2006JPhB...39.1605K. doi:10.1088/0953-4075/39/7/005. 
  17. ^ Atom Optics and Helium Atom Microscopy. Cambridge University, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-06-28. Retrieved 2007-06-13.