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NanoSculptors carve atom by atom

Sculpting nanotubes

Electron microscopy is a delicate balancing act between using the highest energy electrons possible in order to obtain the best image, while avoiding destruction of the sample under investigation. The trouble is, the electron beam does not just observe, it also interacts with the structure we observe. This can be critical for “fragile” samples such as nanostructures: the transfer of energy from the electron beam can be sufficient that atoms are knocked right out of the material. In the worst cases the sample is destroyed in front of your eyes.

In the current study we turned this problem to our advantage. The idea was to use a STEM [scanning transmission electron microscope] as a carving tool with nanometric precision, with the added advantage that we can image what we are doing at the same time.
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