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Full Circle of Innovation in Instrumentation: Atomic Level Imaging

Atom probe tomography (right) provides three-dimensional maps of the positions of atoms comprising a material. Each dot in the right hand image is a captured and identified atom of a semiconductor.

A MRSEC innovation comes back home to reveal the atomic structure of new materials

General Overview: In the mid 1990s, an NSF-funded Materials Research Group that evolved into the Wisconsin MRSEC, developed the Local Electrode Atom Probe (LEAP).  The instrument plucks and identifies millions of atoms one-by-one from a sample  and reconstructs  an atomic scale reproduction of the material in a computer.  A spin-out company Millenium-Imago Scientific Instruments was formed to commercialize the LEAP instrument. This MRSEC innovation in instrumentation has come full circle with the Wisconsin MRSEC’s recent acquisition of a commercial LEAP. It is being used to analyze the atomic scale structure of a promising new semiconductor material discovered by the MRSEC.