Greek Scientist Leads Team Creating First Image of Electrons

A recorded image of microscopic electrons in a crystal of calcium fluoride. Image credit: Christian Hackenberger / University of Rostock

A research team led by Greek physicist and professor Eleftherios Goulielmakis has created the first photograph of electrons in crystals, thanks to a powerful new microscope.

Dubbed the “Picoscope,” this new device allowed scientists from both Germany and China to overcome the limitations of traditional lenses. It was developed in collaboration with scientists at the Institute of Physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.

The microscope uses powerful laser pulses to emit a fine film in order to accelerate electrons, which allows special detectors to capture crystalline materials. Essentially, a powerful laser forces electrons to capture an image of the space around them.

Dr. Goulielmakis stated in regard to the study and the Picoscope, “This distinctive ability is enough to photograph high-resolution electrons.”

Dr. Eleftherios Goulielmakis led the research team in the creation of the Picoscope. Photo credit: https://www.uni-rostock.de/en/

Traditional, visible light microscopes are only able to distinguish microscopic objects by the size relative to light’s own wavelength, which is as short as one hundred nanometers (millionths of a meter). For electrons to be visible, this light must be magnified even further.

Dr. Goulielmakis and his research team conducted the study at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Garcings, Germany, and later published the findings in the scientific journal Nature.

The German-Greek doctor expects his team’s achievement to gradually affect various fields within the scientific world, including chemistry, electronics, computers, and others.

Dr. Goulielmakis is a Greek physicist specializing in lasers, having been born in Heraklion, Crete before moving to Germany to become a professor at the University of Rostock.