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X-ray Microscopy in your Lab

  • Charles Lyman

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Using X rays to produce magnified images of objects has been a goal for 150 years. Ever since Ernst Abbe declared in 1873 that light microscope resolution was limited by the wavelength of light, the search was on for a microscopy medium with a wavelength shorter than visible light (<500 nm). When Roentgen discovered X rays in 1895, it was thought that the new medium may have been found. Soon it was clear, however, that it was not easy to construct a physical lens for X rays because the rays penetrated all lens construction materials. X-ray “radiography images” of a few times magnification were possible but only as projection images, formed as X rays from millimeter-sized sources traveled in straight lines through the specimen to be captured on film. Unfortunately, even in the best cases, useful magnification was limited by the relatively large “point source” of X rays and the large grain size of X-ray film (both about 0.1–1.0 mm).

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X-ray Microscopy in your Lab

  • Charles Lyman

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