News of the WeekMicroscopy

Helium Beam Shows the Gentle, Sensitive Touch

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  03 Dec 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5446, pp. 1831
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5446.1831

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution


A microscope with unprecedented sensitivity, based on a beam of atoms rather than light or electrons, is a step closer to reality thanks to a German collaboration that has coaxed helium atoms into an intense, needle-fine beam. In contrast to energetic probes such as x-rays or electrons, helium atoms bounce lightly off the target surface without damaging it, so an atom-beam microscope would be a unique instrument for examining surface structures nonintrusively, such as watching the buzzing vibrations on the surface of the minute crystals in metals, say researchers.