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Prospects for Nanobiology with Atom-Probe Tomography

  • Thomas F. Kelly, Osamu Nishikawa, J.A. Panitz and Ty J. Prosa

Abstract

The merits of atom-probe tomography (APT) of inorganic materials are well established, as described in this volume. However, one of the long-held aspirations of atom-probe scientists, structural and chemical characterization of organic and biological materials at near-atomic resolution, has yet to be fully realized. A few proof-of-concept type investigations have shown that APT of organic materials is feasible, but a number of challenges still exist with regard to specimen preparation and conversion of raw time-of-flight mass spectrometry data into a three-dimensional map of ions containing structural and chemical information at an acceptable resolution. Recent research aided by hardware improvements and specimen preparation advances has made some progress toward this goal. This article reviews the historical developments in this field, presents some recent results, and considers what life science researchers might expect from this technology.

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