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  • The thinnest X-ray detector with a thickness of less than 10 nanometers opens a new way for real-time imaging in cell biology

  •  Release time: 2021-11-12 Clicks: 1137  
  • Science and technology Daily intern reporter Zhang Jiaxin

        Australian scientists have created the thinnest X-ray detector yet using tin sulfide (SnS) nanosheets。The new detector, which is less than 10 nanometers thick, has high sensitivity and fast response, which helps realize real-time imaging of cell biology。


      SnS has shown great application prospects in the fields of photovoltaic, field effect transistor and catalysis。Researchers from Monash University, Australia, and the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Exciton Science have demonstrated that SnS nanosheets are also excellent candidates for use as ultra-thin soft X-ray detectors。The study, published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials, shows that SnS nanosheets have a high photon absorption coefficient, which makes them more sensitive than another emerging candidate, metal halide perovskite, with a shorter response time of just a few milliseconds, and can regulate the sensitivity of the entire soft X-ray region。

      X-rays can be broadly divided into two types: "hard" X-rays that scan the body for fractures and other diseases;"Soft" X-rays have lower photon energy and can be used to study wet proteins and living cells, a key component of cell biology。The water window refers to soft X-rays in the wavelength range of 2.34—4.The region between 4 nanometers, in which water is transparent to soft X-rays that are absorbed by nitrogen atoms and other elements that make up living organisms, can therefore be used for X-ray microscopy of living biological samples。

      The SnS X-ray detector is less than 10 nanometers thick。For comparison, a piece of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick, and a human fingernail grows about 1 nanometers per second。The thinnest X-ray detectors ever made are between 20 and 50 nanometers thick。

      The researchers say that in the future, such X-ray detectors could be used to observe the process of cell interactions, not only producing static images, but also seeing changes and movements of proteins and cells。

      According to the researchers, the sensitivity and efficiency of SnS nanosheets largely depend on their thickness and lateral dimensions, which are impossible to control through traditional manufacturing methods。Using a liquid metal-based stripping method, the researchers produced high-quality, large-area sheets of controllable thickness that can effectively detect soft X-ray photons in water, further increasing their sensitivity through the process of stacking ultra-thin layers。They offer significant improvements in sensitivity and response time compared to existing direct soft X-ray detectors。

      The researchers hope that the discovery will open new avenues for the development of the next generation of highly sensitive X-ray detectors based on ultra-thin materials。