APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- High-resolution transmission electron microscopy (TEM)
- Graphene research
- Facilitates mass production of high quality TEM grids
- Enables study of nanoparticles and nanoscale biological components
- Compatible with state-of-the-art TEM resolution levels
Alex Zettl and other Berkeley Lab researchers have developed graphene-based TEM sample supports (grids). The Berkeley Lab TEM grids consist of single-layer graphene suspended over a metallic (copper or gold) mesh scaffold to create a freestanding thin film. The TEM grids facilitate superior contrast and resolution because graphene is atomically thin, crystalline and composed of carbon, a low atomic number element, making it nearly transparent to the electron beam.
This invention overcomes the complex, multi-step fabrication of commercial TEM grids that has created a bottleneck in using the next generation of high resolution TEM. The Berkeley Lab technology presents a simple, fast process to mass produce graphene-based TEM grids in sizes as large as 10 cm x 10 cm. Thus, over 1,000 high quality TEM grids can be manufactured in less time than with current methods to produce only one conventional TEM grid measuring 3.05 mm in diameter. The TEM grids can be produced with a reference grid for experiments involving a series of modifications to a sample.
This technology offers a significant improvement over commercial TEM grids made of Si3N4, amorphous carbon membranes or similar materials employing patterned arrays of mm-sized holes or arranged over holey carbon grids. Current technology grids either inhibit proper resolution and contrast due to their thick support membranes, or they allow nanoparticles or nanoscale biological molecules (protein complexes, DNA) to fall through the holes or mesh. The Berkeley Lab graphene-based TEM grids lack these major shortcomings.
STATUS: Patent pending. Available for licensing or collaborative research.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Proven principle. Researchers are optimizing the fabrication process.
SEE THESE OTHER BERKELEY LAB TECHNOLOGIES IN THIS FIELD:
Boron Nitride Nanotubes with Modified Surfaces, IB-2331, 2332
REFERENCE NUMBER: IB-2817