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Capturing images of the atomic world takes some ingenious particle trickery and big machines. The wavelength of visible light is much too long to be effective on that scale — using a traditional microscope to see atoms would be a bit like sifting for gold with a fishing net.
One breakthrough method, employed in this photo in 1984, involves aiming an intensely focused beam of electrons through a target sample. Analyzing the changes in these penetrating particles can then reveal atomic structures much too small for visible light to ever touch.
The instrument above, a Scanning Transmission Electron Microscope, came to life here at Brookhaven back in 1975. 

Capturing images of the atomic world takes some ingenious particle trickery and big machines. The wavelength of visible light is much too long to be effective on that scale — using a traditional microscope to see atoms would be a bit like sifting for gold with a fishing net.

One breakthrough method, employed in this photo in 1984, involves aiming an intensely focused beam of electrons through a target sample. Analyzing the changes in these penetrating particles can then reveal atomic structures much too small for visible light to ever touch.

The instrument above, a Scanning Transmission Electron Microscope, came to life here at Brookhaven back in 1975. 

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