World's most powerful microscope starts work

Posted by Emma Woollacott

The world’s most powerful microscope is now peering away at tiny things at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

You may be proud of the zoom on your camera, but the JEOL transmission electron microscope, JEM-ARM200F, can magnify by 20 million times.

Its developers hope it will accelerate the development of new cancer therapies and disease treatments.

"We now have access to resolutions that will give us a tremendous scientific advantage to solve problems that need to be attacked," says Miguel Yacaman, chair of UTSA's College of Sciences’ Department of Physics and Astronomy.

"We’ll be able to watch nanoparticles behave one atom at a time. This is the Holy Grail for us."

The microscope will be housed in a specially-designed laboratory  that protects it from vibrations.

Yacaman’s team is already using the microscope to study how to develop optimally shaped nanoparticles that could be used with a laser to pinpoint and destroy cancerous cells.

The university is also using it to study Alzheimer’s disease. The microscope will eventually be accessible to researchers around the world, operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week.