Tokyo, Japan – A team of German researchers has been awarded the 2008 Honda Prize for its development of the world-first Atomic Electron Microscope, capable of atomic-level imaging. The prize is awarded by the Honda Foundation, co-founded by Soichiro and Benjiro Honda and currently headed by Kiromori Kawashima.

The basic theory of aberration correction for high-resolution imaging was introduced in Germany in the 1940s, but many researchers attempted and failed to implement it in an aberration-corrected electron microscope, and experts had questioned its technical feasibility. Dr. Harald H. Rose, Dr. Maximilian Haider, and Dr. Knut Wolf Urban, who were teamed in 1989, refined the basic theory and combined it with electron optical engineering techniques to attain the mechanical stability required for electron microscopy. They succeeded in making an aberration-corrected microscope capable of high-resolution imaging of atomic structures in 1997.

The technology, now available to microscope manufacturers in several countries, has become one of the essential instruments for research and development on an atomic level. It is expected that new materials could be discovered and macroscopic properties could be analyzed at atomic levels by use of this technology, in industries such as metallic engineering, biotechnology, and nanotechnology.

The 2008 award marks the 29th time the Honda Prize has been awarded. It will be given to the researchers in a ceremony in Tokyo in November; it consists of a prize diploma, medal, and 10 million yen.

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