It's the fastest detector currently in operation and will open entirely new doors in electron microscopy. It can record images on the atomic scale 60 times faster than any existing detector. This allows scientists to film entire movies of experiments, rather than dealing with single disparate images.
The electron detector, called the 4D Camera, outputs a huge amount of data -- about 4TB per minute. "The amount of data is equivalent to watching about 60,000 HD movies simultaneously," said Peter Ercius, a staff scientist at the Molecular Foundry, part of the Berkeley Lab. That required the team to build a network between the microscope and the supercomputer it feeds to in order to handle that amount of data in a regular basis.
But that much data also means that the team will be able to record every single electron during an experiment. "Through this really large data set we'll be able to perform 'virtual' experiments on the sample -- we won't have to go back and take new data from different imaging conditions," said Jim Ciston, another staff scientist.