In the latest issue of the Berkeley Science Review, we profiled the exciting development of graphene liquid cell technology at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and UC Berkeley. This technique allows microscopists to visualize real-time nanocrystal growth in a transmission electron microscope. You may have caught us bragging a little bit in that article about the specific microscope Cal researchers used in that work. We usually try to be humble but when it comes to electron microscopes at Berkeley, that’s extremely hard to do.  In fact, our extraordinary microscopy was one of the reasons I was so excited to start graduate school here in the first place. In this multi-part post, I’ll be giving you a whirlwind tour of a few amazing microscope systems around campus. Hopefully, I’ll be able to convince you that these amazing instruments should be yet another reason to walk around campus with some serious Cal pride.

Whether or not you’re a scientist, chances are that if you’ve ever taken a biology class you’ve seen your fair share of transmission electron micrographs—the black and white photos with the arrows pointing at the different components, remember? Those images were showing you images of individual cells. Well, today that should seem huge because we’re taking a trip way down to the bottom, as Feynman would say. The electron microscope I’ll be talking about is capable of producing directly interpretable images of individual atomic columns with picometer spatial resolution.