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The Molecule Microscope: A New Instrument for Biological and Biomedical Research

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  • Physical Sciences: Physics
  • Design


We describe a new instrument, the molecule microscope, which reveals directly spatial variations in the rate of evaporation of molecules from surfaces by using neutral molecules instead of light or charged particles used in existing kinds of microscopes. The surface composition of the sample determines the binding energy of the evaporating molecules and, hence, the rate of evaporation, which also depends on permeability of the sample when the molecules come either from within or from the other side. We show first results obtained with our apparatus, discuss the design of an instrument now under construction with ≈1-μm resolution, and describe briefly some more advanced versions under consideration with ≈100-Å resolution.

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