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Properties of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) are very different from bulk gold, in particular, highly dispersed AuNPs exhibit high catalytic activities on metal oxide supports. Catalytic activities of AuNPs are strongly dependent on: (i) size and morphology; (ii) synthesis methods; (iii) nature of the support; (iv) interaction between AuNPs and the support; and (v) oxidation state of AuNPs in the synthesized catalysts. A goal is to maintain the size and to prohibit aggregation of AuNPs, since aggregations deteriorate catalytic activities. Some strong interactions are therefore required between AuNPs and their supports to prevent the movement of AuNPs. SBA-15 is a promising material for the support of AuNPs since it has ordered two-dimensional hexagonal pore channels, uniform pore size ranging from 5 to 30 nm, narrow pore size distribution, thick amorphous walls ranging from 3 to 6 nm, and high surface area. In this study, SBA-15, TiO2-SBA-15 and TiO2-SBA-15-AuNP nanocomposites were synthesized by the sol-gel method and microstructural characterizations were carried out by both X-ray diffraction analysis and electron microscopy.
Cold atom electron and ion sources produce electron bunches and ion beams by photoionization of laser-cooled atoms. They offer high coherence and the potential for high brightness, with applications including ultra-fast electron-diffractive imaging of dynamic processes at the nanoscale. The effective brightness of electron sources has been limited by nonlinear divergence caused by repulsive interactions between the electrons, known as the Coulomb explosion. It has been shown that electron bunches with ellipsoidal shape and uniform density distribution have linear internal Coulomb fields, such that the Coulomb explosion can be reversed using conventional optics. Our source can create bunches shaped in three dimensions and hence in principle achieve the transverse spatial coherence and brightness needed for picosecond-diffractive imaging with nanometer resolution. Here we present results showing how the shaping capability can be used to measure the spatial coherence properties of the cold electron source. We also investigate space-charge effects with ions and generate electron bunches with durations of a few hundred picoseconds. Future development of the cold atom electron and ion source will increase the bunch charge and charge density, demonstrate reversal of Coulomb explosion, and ultimately, ultra-fast coherent electron-diffractive imaging.
This study demonstrates the accumulation of electron-induced secondary electrons by utilizing a simple geometrical configuration of two branches of a charged insulating biomaterial. The collective motion of these secondary electrons between the branches has been visualized by analyzing the reconstructed amplitude images obtained using in situ electron holography. In order to understand the collective motion of secondary electrons, the trajectories of these electrons around the branches have also been simulated by taking into account the electric field around the charged branches on the basis of Maxwell’s equations.
Correlative electron tomography and atom probe tomography have been carried out successfully on the same region of a commercial 8090 aluminum alloy (Al-Li-Mg-Cu). The combination of the two techniques allows accurate geometric reconstruction of the atom probe tomography data verified by crystallographic information retrieved from the reconstruction. Quantitative analysis of the precipitate phase compositions and volume fractions of each phase have been obtained from the atom probe tomography and electron tomography at various scales, showing strong agreement between both techniques.
Complex, electrochemically driven transport processes form the basis of electrochemical energy storage devices. The direct imaging of electrochemical processes at high spatial resolution and within their native liquid electrolyte would significantly enhance our understanding of device functionality, but has remained elusive. In this work we use a recently developed liquid cell for in situ electrochemical transmission electron microscopy to obtain insight into the electrolyte decomposition mechanisms and kinetics in lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries by characterizing the dynamics of solid electrolyte interphase (SEI) formation and evolution. Here we are able to visualize the detailed structure of the SEI that forms locally at the electrode/electrolyte interface during lithium intercalation into natural graphite from an organic Li-ion battery electrolyte. We quantify the SEI growth kinetics and observe the dynamic self-healing nature of the SEI with changes in cell potential.
Specimen transfer under controlled environment conditions, such as temperature, pressure, and gas composition, is necessary to conduct successive complementary in situ characterization of materials sensitive to ambient conditions. The in situ transfer concept is introduced by linking an environmental transmission electron microscope to an in situ X-ray diffractometer through a dedicated transmission electron microscope specimen transfer holder, capable of sealing the specimen in a gaseous environment at elevated temperatures. Two catalyst material systems have been investigated; Cu/ZnO/Al2O3 catalyst for methanol synthesis and a Co/Al2O3 catalyst for Fischer–Tropsch synthesis. Both systems are sensitive to ambient atmosphere as they will oxidize after relatively short air exposure. The Cu/ZnO/Al2O3 catalyst, was reduced in the in situ X-ray diffractometer set-up, and subsequently, successfully transferred in a reactive environment to the environmental transmission electron microscope where further analysis on the local scale were conducted. The Co/Al2O3 catalyst was reduced in the environmental microscope and successfully kept reduced outside the microscope in a reactive environment. The in situ transfer holder facilitates complimentary in situ experiments of the same specimen without changing the specimen state during transfer.
A newly designed, 100 mm2, silicon drift detector has been installed on an aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscope equipped with an ultra-high resolution pole piece, without requiring column modifications. With its unique, windowless design, the detector’s active region is in close proximity to the sample, resulting in a dramatic increase in count rate, while demonstrating an increased sensitivity to low energy X-rays and a muted tilt dependence. Numerous examples of X-ray energy dispersive spectrometry are presented on relevant materials such as AlxGa1−xN nanowires, perovskite oxides, and polycrystalline CdTe thin films, across both varying length scales and accelerating voltages.
Hexagonal boron nitride (hBN) is a promising material for a range of applications including deep-ultraviolet light emission. Despite extensive experimental studies, some fundamental aspects of hBN remain unknown, such as the type of stacking faults likely to be present and their influence on electronic properties. In this paper, different stacking configurations of hBN are investigated using CASTEP, a pseudopotential density functional theory code. AB-b stacking faults, in which B atoms are positioned directly on top of one another while N atoms are located above the center of BN hexagons, are shown to be likely in conventional AB stacked hBN. Bandstructure calculations predict a single direct bandgap structure that may be responsible for the discrepancies in bandgap type observed experimentally. Calculations of the near edge structure showed that different stackings of hBN are distinguishable using measurements of core-loss edges in X-ray absorption and electron energy loss spectroscopy. AB stacking was found to best reproduce features in the experimental B and N K-edges. The calculations also show that splitting of the 1s to π* peak in the B K-edge, recently observed experimentally, may be accounted for by the presence of AB-b stacking faults.
This paper reports a study of local orientation change occurring within micro-scale tensile samples as a function of strain. These samples were fabricated from a thin film of single crystal bcc Fe and deformed in tension using an in situ micro-mechanical testing device inside a scanning electron microscope. Samples were loaded along the <110> direction parallel to the specimen axis, strained to different levels, and then subjected to electron backscatter diffraction scans over the entire area of the gauge section. Analysis of the surface orientation data shows that, within a necked zone of the micro-sample gauge section, there are two distinct regions of significant orientation change, in which local crystal rotations occur in opposite directions. These two regions are separated by an intermediate band that shows minimal misorientation from the original state. Crystal rotations within the two regions that develop opposite orientations are found to be consistent with classic single crystal slip, where the slip direction rotates toward the tensile axis. It is shown that increasing tensile strain causes an increasing degree of rotation away from the starting orientation. The tests also illustrate the occurrence of slip on at least two different slip systems, based on the slip traces and orientation change.
We present a quantitative comparison between experimental position-averaged core-loss scattering from K-, L-, and M-shells of various elements and simulations based on a single-particle description of the core-loss process. To facilitate a direct comparison free of adjustable or compensating parameters, we compare absolute scattering cross-sections for zone-axis-aligned crystals whose thicknesses have been measured independently. The results show that the single-particle model accurately predicts the absolute scattering intensity from K-shells, and L-shells in some cases, but achieves only semi-quantitative agreement for M-shells.
A method to remove the effects of elastic and thermal diffuse scattering (TDS) of the incident electron probe from electron energy-loss and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy data for atomically resolved spectrum images of single crystals of known thickness is presented. By calculating the distribution of the probe within a specimen of known structure, it is possible to deconvolve the channeling of the probe and TDS from experimental data by reformulating the inelastic cross-section as an inverse problem. In electron energy-loss spectroscopy this allows valid comparisons with first principles fine-structure calculations to be made. In energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, direct compositional analyses such as ζ-factor and Cliff–Lorimer k-factor analysis can be performed without the complications of channeling and TDS. We explore in detail how this method can be incorporated into existing multislice programs, and demonstrate practical considerations in implementing this method using a simulated test specimen. We show the importance of taking into account the scattering of the probe in k-factor analysis in a zone axis orientation. The applicability and limitations of the method are discussed.
We present a deterministic approach to the ptychographic retrieval of the wave at the exit surface of a specimen of condensed matter illuminated by X-rays. The method is based on the solution of an overdetermined set of linear equations, and is robust to measurement noise. The set of linear equations is efficiently solved using the conjugate gradient least-squares method implemented using fast Fourier transforms. The method is demonstrated using a data set obtained from a gold–chromium nanostructured test object. It is shown that the transmission function retrieved by this linear method is quantitatively comparable with established methods of ptychography, with a large decrease in computational time, and is thus a good candidate for real-time reconstruction.
Atom probe is a powerful technique for studying the composition of nano-precipitates, but their morphology within the reconstructed data is distorted due to the so-called local magnification effect. A new technique has been developed to mitigate this limitation by characterizing the distribution of the surrounding matrix atoms, rather than those contained within the nano-precipitates themselves. A comprehensive chemical analysis enables further information on size and chemistry to be obtained. The method enables new insight into the morphology and chemistry of niobium carbonitride nano-precipitates within ferrite for a series of Nb-microalloyed ultra-thin cast strip steels. The results are supported by complementary high-resolution transmission electron microscopy.
Early embryonic heart development is a period of dynamic growth and remodeling, with rapid changes occurring at the tissue, cell, and subcellular levels. A detailed understanding of the events that establish the components of the heart wall has been hampered by a lack of methodologies for three-dimensional (3D), high-resolution imaging. Focused ion beam scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM) is a novel technology for imaging 3D tissue volumes at the subcellular level. FIB-SEM alternates between imaging the block face with a scanning electron beam and milling away thin sections of tissue with a FIB, allowing for collection and analysis of 3D data. FIB-SEM was used to image the three layers of the day 4 chicken embryo heart: myocardium, cardiac jelly, and endocardium. Individual images obtained with FIB-SEM were comparable in quality and resolution to those obtained with transmission electron microscopy. Up to 1,100 serial images were obtained in 4 nm increments at 4.88 nm resolution, and image stacks were aligned to create volumes 800–1,500 μm3 in size. Segmentation of organelles revealed their organization and distinct volume fractions between cardiac wall layers. We conclude that FIB-SEM is a powerful modality for 3D subcellular imaging of the embryonic heart wall.
The vasa vasorum (VV) of explanted segments of the human great saphenous vein (Vena saphena magna; HGSV), harvested during dissection for coronary bypass grafts or diseased vein segments from the “Salzburger Landesklinikum,” were studied by scanning electron microscopy and three-dimensional morphometry of microvascular corrosion casts. The main objective of this study was to examine the VV’s structural arrangement in order to find the most vital segments of the HGSV and in turn to improve the results of coronary bypass surgeries. The study presents a meticulous analysis of the whole microvascular system of the VV of the HGSV and its three-dimensional arrangement. It is one of the first studies yielding detailed quantitative data on geometry of the VV of the HGSV. A detailed insight into different vascular parameters such as vessel diameter, interbranching, intervascular distances, and branching angles at different levels of the VV’s angioarchitecture and in different parts of the HGSV in health and disease is given. Further, the geometry of bifurcations was examined in order to compute the physiological optimality principles of this delicate vascular system based on its construction, maintenance, and function.
Hearts of mice with reduction of function mutation in STAT3 (SA/SA) develop fibrotic collagen foci and reduced systolic function with hypertension. This model was used to determine if fractal dimension and image analysis can provide a quantitative description of myocardial fibrosis using routinely prepared trichome-stained material. Collagen was characterized by relative density [integrated optical density/area (IOD/A)] and fractal dimension (D), an index of complexity. IOD/A of collagen in wild type mice increased with hypertension while D decreased, suggesting tighter collagen packing that could eventually stiffen the myocardium as in diastolic heart failure. Reduced STAT3 function caused modest collagen fibrosis with increased IOD/A and D, indicating more tightly packed, but more disorganized collagen than normotensive and hypertensive controls. Hypertension in SA/SA mice resulted in large regions where myocytes were lost and replaced by fibrotic collagen characterized by decreased density and increased disorder. This indicates that collagen associated with reparative fibrosis in SA/SA hearts experiencing hypertension was highly disorganized and more space filling. Loss of myocytes and their replacement by disordered collagen fibers may further weaken the myocardium leading to systolic heart failure. Our findings highlight the utility of image analysis in revealing importance of a cellular protein for normal and reparative extracellular matrix deposition.