“This doesn’t just set a new record,” Muller said. “It’s reached a regime which is effectively going to be an ultimate limit for resolution. We basically can now figure out where the atoms are in a very easy way. This opens up a whole lot of new measurement possibilities of things we’ve wanted to do for a very long time. It also solves a long-standing problem—undoing the multiple scattering of the beam in the sample, which Hans Bethe laid out in 1928—that has blocked us from doing this in the past.”
Ptychography works by scanning overlapping scattering patterns from a material sample and looking for changes in the overlapping region.
“We’re chasing speckle patterns that look a lot like those laser-pointer patterns that cats are equally fascinated by,” Muller said. “By seeing how the pattern changes, we are able to compute the shape of the object that caused the pattern.”
The detector is slightly defocused, blurring the beam, in order to capture the widest range of data possible. This data is then reconstructed via complex algorithms, resulting in an ultraprecise image with picometer (one-trillionth of a meter) precision.
Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction