The dream of the microscopy and materials science communities is to see, identify, accurately locate, and determine the fundamental physical properties of every atom in a specimen. With this knowledge together with modern computer models and simulations, a full understanding of the properties of a material can be determined. This fundamental knowledge leads to the design and development of more advanced materials for solving the needs of society. The technique of atom probe tomography is the closest to fulfilling this dream but is still significantly short of the goal. The future of atom probe tomography, and the prospects for achieving this ultimate goal are outlined.

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DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(12)70069-X