A New Twist for Electron Beams

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Science  14 Jan 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6014, pp. 155-156
DOI: 10.1126/science.1200643

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The transmission electron microscope (TEM) has primarily been used by physical and life scientists for imaging structures and compositions ranging in size from atoms to cells. New applications are likely to emerge from recent demonstrations that it is possible to change the nature of the primary electron source used to create images. Normally, an electron is emitted from its source in a TEM as a plane wave. However, as shown on page 192 of this issue by McMorran et al. (1) as well in recent studies by Verbeeck et al. (2), passing the electron plane wave through a hologram that contains a dislocation causes it to undergo diffraction and split into an electron vortex beam. This type of electron beam can be used to create higher-resolution images and to manipulate the structure and properties of the sample.