Products that continue to improve both in price and performance are a surprising but welcome feature of what has been the micro-age and is now becoming the nano-age. This virtuous circle is driven by miniaturization. Electron microscopy has constantly played a crucial role in elucidating the developing science and technology, having resolution measured in nanometers in the micro-age and, over the last five years, moving to resolution measured in picometers in the nano-age. The principal breakthrough that has enabled this recent rapid improvement in electron microscopy is the correction of electron-optical aberrations. The realization of this improvement (the principle has been known since 1947) is in turn crucially dependent on the very electronic and computer technology it has played a role in enabling.

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DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(04)00570-X