CURRENT RESEARCH TOWARDS IMAGING BIOLOGICAL MOLECULES USING FIELD DESORPTION MICROSCOPY AND FIELD ION MICROSCOPY OF DIAMOND

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Work is currently in progress investigating the possibility of imaging large organic and biological molecules in a modification of field desorption microscopy (FDM). A field ion microscope (FIM) is being converted to an FDM by installation of a chevron channel tron electron multiplier array (CEMA), commonly called a chevron channel plate. The chevron CEMA has a gain of over 10{sup 7} and can thus produce enough light from single field desorbed ions to be readily photographed. In field desorption microscopy, a fine metal tip is subjected to positive electric fields high enough to field evaporate the metal as positive ions. ... continued below

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Hirsch, G. & Washburn, J. November 1, 1977.

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Work is currently in progress investigating the possibility of imaging large organic and biological molecules in a modification of field desorption microscopy (FDM). A field ion microscope (FIM) is being converted to an FDM by installation of a chevron channel tron electron multiplier array (CEMA), commonly called a chevron channel plate. The chevron CEMA has a gain of over 10{sup 7} and can thus produce enough light from single field desorbed ions to be readily photographed. In field desorption microscopy, a fine metal tip is subjected to positive electric fields high enough to field evaporate the metal as positive ions. These ions follow the field lines radially away from the tip and strike the CEMA. One therefore gets a greatly magnified image of the tip by field evaporated ions. The magnification, M equals R/{beta}r where R is the tip to screen distance, typically 5-10 cm, r is the tip radius, typically 100-1000 {angstrom} and {beta} is an electrostatic compression factor due to the field lines being Slightly compressed at the tip. Magnifications of over 10{sup 6} are easily obtained and at low temperatures, metal atoms field evaporating from adjacent lattice positions on the tip will strike the CEMA within separate areas. Therefore the resolution is less than 3 {angstrom}. A large amount of work has been done attempting to image molecules on tips by FIM and field emission microscopy (FEM). In FEM, the resolution is normally limited to about 25{angstrom} due to the large transverse momentum of the emitted electrons. The images of molecules obtained have therefore been of low resolution and hard to interpret due to effects which are still controversial in interpretation. By reversing the field and adding an imaging gas one would hope to be able to get high resolution FIM images of adsorbed molecules. It turns out however that the molecules are pulled off the tips in fields of approximately +100 to +200 MV/cm. In FEM which uses fields of -30 to -50 MV/cm this is managable. In FIM, the best resolution is obtained using helium imaging gas which has a best imaging field ({approx}440 MV/cm) well above the desorption field of the molecules. By substituting lower ionization potential imaging gases, the field can be lowered. Thus FIM images of molecules have been obtained with H{sub 2} and Hg which require fields of {approx} 200 MV/cm and 80 MV/cm respectfully. The resolution is not very good however; one only sees diffuse patches of light with no structure. Even if one gets some direct image of a molecule via FIM, the fields are so high that the molecule will be severely distorted and possibly dissociated. The imaging gases which field ionize at low fields all produce low resolution FIM images. In addition, these gases are usually highly chemically reactive at the imaging field. Other attempts have been made to shadow molecules on a tip with vapor deposited metal atoms or encasing molecules in an electroplated deposit on a tip. By field evaporating the deposit until a cavity with an enclosed molecule is uncovered, one might hope to see an outline of the molecule by imaging of the surrounding matrix atoms. Again however, the resolution is not very good because of the uncertainty of the metal atoms to reliably encase the molecule.

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  • Report No.: LBL-6960
  • Grant Number: DE-AC02-05CH11231
  • DOI: 10.2172/1004777 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1004777
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc843026

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  • November 1, 1977

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • May 19, 2016, 3:16 p.m.

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  • July 26, 2016, 3:50 p.m.

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Hirsch, G. & Washburn, J. CURRENT RESEARCH TOWARDS IMAGING BIOLOGICAL MOLECULES USING FIELD DESORPTION MICROSCOPY AND FIELD ION MICROSCOPY OF DIAMOND, report, November 1, 1977; Berkeley, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc843026/: accessed October 17, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.