Most powerful microscope can magnify 20 million times

The University of Texas at San Antonio has got what it claims to be the world’s most powerful microscope up and running, which can see samples magnified at 20 million times their original size.

The microscope will be installed in the Kleberg Advanced Microscopy Laboratory, which is designed specifically to “inhibit intrusive vibrations”. The microscope is already being used to look at how specially designed nanoparticles can be placed on a tumour and how to burn away damaged cells without harming nearby healthy ones.

It will also be used to look into Alzheimer’s disease and to work on new materials for other applications. It will be operating constantly on a 24 hour basis, and the university is promising that in the near future it will be accessible to researchers globally.

The microscope, officially titled ARM200F, has been nicknamed Helenita after president of the Robert J Kleberg foundation which funded the effort with $1.2 million. 

Boffin Miguel Yacaman, who is chair of the College of Sciences’ Department of Physics and Astronomy, said: “We’ll be able to watch nanoparticles behave one atom at a time. This is the Holy Grail for us.”