Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Power of the TEM

Today we got to use the powerful technology that is the Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM).  Through UROPs and lab classes, I have become familiar with several different types of machines, especially the PCR machine.  A PCR machine’s goal is relatively simple: to change temperature to facilitate the PCR of DNA, while the TEM’s goal is much broader and can capture so much fine detail.  I was amazed at how the TEM can distinguish individual planes of atoms to allow the visualization of single atoms….it’s just crazy how there exists technology that can magnify an image so much that you can literally see the building block of life!  It’s a little hard to believe, especially when the image displayed on the screen is in black and white and the atoms of gold we were observing appeared as black blobs.  But when you step back and think about what you’re actually seeing, that’s when you start to remember how powerful and how high-tech the TEM is.

I think the TEM is the coolest technology we have used so far in this class.  There’s not too many machines that are bigger than people…but when they are, they are probably able to do something really cool.  As it was so big, there were a lot of buttons that could be pressed.  Kudos to the operator who operated the TEM today because I’m sure the use of the TEM is very complicated and being able to pick out which parts of the sample would have the desired target in view requires a lot of practice and expertise.

The TEM is a super cool machine with incredible capabilities.  I’m glad we got to end the class with using such cool technology. I'm curious as to whether we'll use another technology in future course 20 classes that have capabilities equal to or greater than the TEM.

Looking forward to the research project proposals and then…summer!


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