At the end of 2013, scientists from Massachusetts University, together with NASA scientists, developed a completely new type of microscope, which instead of light or electrons, uses a neutron beam.
Neutrons – subatomic particles that do not have an electric charge and, due to their neutral nature, allow you to obtain an image of the insides of any metal objects. High -quality images with high resolution are obtained directly while working with a microscope.
The neutron microscope is very sensitive to the magnetic properties of objects on which the study is conducted, and in the future it will become very useful in the field of biochemistry and chemistry due to the possibility of distinguishing light elements and, according to scientists, will make many new discoveries to make many new discoveries.
Tools using neutron rays for work existed earlier. But due to the lack of active optical components, they gave low-quality images with very low resolution.
Due to their neutral breed, neutrons are characterized by weak interaction with matter, therefore, from a scientific and technical point of view, their focusing is a very difficult task. To create a microscope, scientists used a number of developments used during the development of equipment for the X -ray Observatory “Chandra” due to the fact that the features of neutron rays can be compared with the focusing of x -rays, which also weakly interact with other materials.
In such optical systems, a special effect is used, due to which light directed at a small angle can be reflected even from surfaces that are absolutely non -nonsense. Based on this effect, mirrors with a special coating were created, which reflect neutron rays.
Scientists have achieved the effective reflection of the rays of neutrons, which made it possible to focus them with the help of several mirrors nested in each other. The resulting lens allowed to improve the resulting research results by more than 50 times compared to those that managed to receive earlier. At the same time, the size of the microscope itself was significantly reduced, and the new model in its dimensions approaches serial models of electronic and electron-optical microscopes.
The development of this research tool took place in several stages. The preliminary design of the neutron microscope was carried out in digital form on the computer. After that, scientists made an experimental neutron focusing system and tested it using the rays of neutrons produced by equipment in the laboratory of nuclear explosions. In the future, it is planned to use equipment in the National Institute of Standards and Technologies in the National Institute of Standard and in the National Laboratory OK Ridge. Such equipment will allow scientists to experiment with various neutron rays of various energy characteristics.