08.08.18 - An extension to the breakthrough “tilt-less” 3D electron imaging technique, developed by EPFL researchers, has won a Microscopy Today Innovation Award.

Microscopy Today is the official, bimonthly magazine of the Microscopy Society of America (MSA), published since 1992. Each year, the magazine awards ten innovations that “will make microscopy and microanalysis more powerful, more productive, and easier to accomplish.”

Although transmission electron microscopy (TEM) provides sufficient two-dimensional (2D) resolution for characterizing complex nanoscale specimens, determining the internal 3D structure with a TEM remains a significant challenge. Such analysis generally depends on a complicated experimental implementation involving acquisition of an angular or focal series of 2D images, followed by sophisticated image-processing to reconstruct the 3D nature of the specimen.

But in 2017, EPFL’s electron microscopy scientists (CIME and LSME) developed a method that enables 3D imaging of complex curvilinear structures from a single sample orientation. The 3D reconstruction takes place via a proprietary image-processing algorithm that has been developed in collaboration with the Computer Vision Laboratory of EPFL.

Now, EPFL researcher Emad Oveisi has won an Innovation Award from Microscopy Today for a new technique that enables 3D imaging for in situ dynamics, referred to as “Single-shot three-dimensional electron imaging”. The new method enables real-time 3D electron imaging in a single scanned acquisition by integrating stereo-scanning transmission electron microscopy imaging with segmented detectors and algorithmic feature reconstruction.

“I am very delighted to have contributed to the advancement of the electron microscopy field,” says Oveisi. “Our new imaging methodology has the potential to transform certain research areas, as it enables the 3D electron imaging of dynamic processes evolving on a millisecond timescale, such as interaction of crystal defects under mechanical stress, or resolving beam-sensitive biological structures in 3D.”