Deciphering Dynamics of Electric Charge

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To achieve this, they employed a scanning probe microscope equipped with an automated control system that enables a unique spiral pattern for efficient scanning, along with advanced computer vision techniques for data analysis. The rapid, thorough view of processes demonstrated in the new approach was previously unattainable. 

Collins described the technique as similar to having a high-speed camera that enables detailed videos of a hummingbird’s wings in motion, where previously only blurry snapshots were possible.

(ORNL: Oak Ridge, TN) — Research led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Marti Checa and Liam Collins has pioneered a groundbreaking approach, described in the journal Nature Communications, toward understanding the behavior of an electric charge at the microscopic level. 

Their findings could be vital for improving efficiency, life span, and performance in batteries, solar cells, and other electronic devices. 

Spiral-tip motion combined with image reconstruction techniques is an approach that can help scientists better understand the behavior of an electric charge at the microscopic level, essential for improving batteries and electronic devices. Credit: Stephen Jesse/ORNL, U.S. Department of Energy.

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In the paper, the team explained their approach, which enables visualizing charge motion at the nanometer level, or one billionth of a meter, but at speeds thousands of times faster than conventional methods. 

Published: Thursday, February 22, 2024 – 12:00