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The dictionary-based approach to the indexing of diffraction patterns is applied to electron channeling patterns (ECPs). The main ingredients of the dictionary method are introduced, including the generalized forward projector (GFP), the relevant detector model, and a scheme to uniformly sample orientation space using the “cubochoric” representation. The GFP is used to compute an ECP “master” pattern. Derivative free optimization algorithms, including the Nelder–Mead simplex and the bound optimization by quadratic approximation are used to determine the correct detector parameters and to refine the orientation obtained from the dictionary approach. The indexing method is applied to poly-silicon and shows excellent agreement with the calibrated values. Finally, it is shown that the method results in a mean disorientation error of 1.0° with 0.5° SD for a range of detector parameters.
This study applies atom probe tomography (APT) to analyze the oxide scales formed on model NiAlCr alloys doped with Hf, Y, Ti, and B. Due to its ability to measure small amounts of alloying elements in the oxide matrix and its ability to quantify segregation, the technique offers a possibility for detailed studies of the dopant’s fate during high-temperature oxidation. Three model NiAlCr alloys with different additions of Hf, Y, Ti, and B were prepared and oxidized in O2 at 1,100°C for 100 h. All specimens showed an outer region consisting of different spinel oxides with relatively small grains and the protective Al2O3-oxide layer below. APT analyses focused mainly on this protective oxide layer. In all the investigated samples segregation of both Hf and Y to the oxide grain boundaries was observed and quantified. Neither B nor Ti were observed in the alumina grains or at the analyzed interfaces. The processes of formation of oxide scales and segregation of the alloying elements are discussed. The experimental challenges of the oxide analyses by APT are also addressed.
When using bifunctional core@shell catalysts, the stability of both the shell and core–shell interface is crucial for catalytic applications. In the present study, we elucidate the stability of a CuO/ZnO/Al2O3@ZSM-5 core@shell material, used for one-stage synthesis of dimethyl ether from synthesis gas. The catalyst stability was studied in a hierarchical manner by complementary environmental transmission electron microscopy (ETEM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and in situ hard X-ray ptychography with a specially designed in situ cell. Both reductive activation and reoxidation were applied. The core–shell interface was found to be stable during reducing and oxidizing treatment at 250°C as observed by ETEM and in situ X-ray ptychography, although strong changes occurred in the core on a 10 nm scale due to the reduction of copper oxide to metallic copper particles. At 350°C, in situ X-ray ptychography indicated the occurrence of structural changes also on the µm scale, i.e. the core material and parts of the shell undergo restructuring. Nevertheless, the crucial core–shell interface required for full bifunctionality appeared to remain stable. This study demonstrates the potential of these correlative in situ microscopy techniques for hierarchically designed catalysts.
Ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) are structural materials, which have useful properties that combine high strength at high temperatures with moderate toughness. Carbon fibers within a matrix of carbon and silicon carbide, called C/C–SiC, are a particular class of CMC noted for their high oxidation resistance. Here we use a combination of four-point bending and X-ray radiography, to study the mechanical failure of C/C-SiC CMCs. Correlating X-ray radiographic and load/displacement curve data reveals that the fiber bundles act to slow down crack propagation during four-point bending tests. We attribute this to the fact that strain energy is expended in breaking these fibers and in pulling fiber bundles out of the surrounding matrix material. In addition, we find that the local distribution and concentration of SiC plays an important role in reducing the toughness of the material.
Biological tissues have complex, three-dimensional (3D) organizations of cells and matrix factors that provide the architecture necessary to meet morphogenic and functional demands. Disordered cell alignment is associated with congenital heart disease, cardiomyopathy, and neurodegenerative diseases and repairing or replacing these tissues using engineered constructs may improve regenerative capacity. However, optimizing cell alignment within engineered tissues requires quantitative 3D data on cell orientations and both efficient and validated processing algorithms. We developed an automated method to measure local 3D orientations based on structure tensor analysis and incorporated an adaptive subregion size to account for multiple scales. Our method calculates the statistical concentration parameter, κ, to quantify alignment, as well as the traditional orientational order parameter. We validated our method using synthetic images and accurately measured principal axis and concentration. We then applied our method to confocal stacks of cleared, whole-mount engineered cardiac tissues generated from human-induced pluripotent stem cells or embryonic chick cardiac cells and quantified cardiomyocyte alignment. We found significant differences in alignment based on cellular composition and tissue geometry. These results from our synthetic images and confocal data demonstrate the efficiency and accuracy of our method to measure alignment in 3D tissues.
Image segmentation is a key process in analyzing biological images. However, it is difficult to detect the differences between foreground and background when the image is unevenly illuminated. The unambiguous segmenting of multi-well plate microscopy images with various uneven illuminations is a challenging problem. Currently, no publicly available method adequately solves these various problems in bright-field multi-well plate images. Here, we propose a new method based on contrast values which removes the need for illumination correction. The presented method is effective enough to distinguish foreground and therefore a model organism (Caenorhabditis elegans) from an unevenly illuminated microscope image. In addition, the method also can solve a variety of problems caused by different uneven illumination scenarios. By applying this methodology across a wide range of multi-well plate microscopy images, we show that our approach can consistently analyze images with uneven illuminations with unparalleled accuracy and successfully solve various problems associated with uneven illumination. It can be used to process the microscopy images captured from multi-well plates and detect experimental subjects from an unevenly illuminated background.
The refractive index in the interior of single cells affects the evanescent field depth in quantitative studies using total internal reflection (TIR) fluorescence, but often that index is not well known. We here present method to measure and spatially map the absolute index of refraction in a microscopic sample, by imaging a collimated light beam reflected from the substrate/buffer/cell interference at variable angles of incidence. Above the TIR critical angle (which is a strong function of refractive index), the reflection is 100%, but in the immediate sub-critical angle zone, the reflection intensity is a very strong ascending function of incidence angle. By analyzing the angular position of that edge at each location in the field of view, the local refractive index can be estimated. In addition, by analyzing the steepness of the edge, the distance-to-substrate can be determined. We apply the technique to liquid calibration samples, silica beads, cultured Chinese hamster ovary cells, and primary culture chromaffin cells. The optical technique suffers from decremented lateral resolution, scattering, and interference artifacts. However, it still provides reasonable results for both refractive index (~1.38) and for distance-to-substrate (~150 nm) for the cells, as well as a lateral resolution to about 1 µm.
Transmission Kikuchi diffraction is an emerging technique aimed at producing orientation maps of the structure of materials with a nanometric lateral resolution. This study investigates experimentally the depth resolution of the on-axis configuration, via a twinned silicon bi-crystal sample specifically designed and fabricated. The measured depth resolution varies from 30 to 65 nm in the range 10–30 keV, with a close to linear dependence with incident energy and no dependence with the total sample thickness. The depth resolution is explained in terms of two mechanisms acting concomitantly: generation of Kikuchi diffraction all along the thickness of the sample, associated with continuous absorption on the way out. A model based on the electron mean free path is used to account for the dependence with incident energy of the depth resolution. In addition, based on the results in silicon, the use of the mean absorption coefficient is proposed to predict the depth resolution for any atomic number and incident energy.
Electron tomography has become a valuable and widely used tool for studying the three-dimensional nanostructure of materials and biological specimens. However, the incomplete tilt range provided by conventional sample holders limits the fidelity and quantitative interpretability of tomographic images by leaving a “missing wedge” of unknown information in Fourier space. Imaging over a complete range of angles eliminates missing wedge artifacts and dramatically improves tomogram quality. Full-range tomography is usually accomplished using needle-shaped samples milled from bulk material with focused ion beams, but versatile specimen preparation methods for nanoparticles and other fine powders are lacking. In this work, we present a new preparation technique in which powder specimens are supported on carbon nanofibers that extend beyond the end of a tungsten needle. Using this approach, we produced tomograms of platinum fuel cell catalysts and gold-decorated strontium titanate photocatalyst specimens. Without the missing wedge, these tomograms are free from elongation artifacts, supporting straightforward automatic segmentation and quantitative analysis of key materials properties such as void size and connectivity, and surface area and curvature. This approach may be generalized to other samples that can be dispersed in liquids, such as biological structures, creating new opportunities for high-quality electron tomography across disciplines.
Understanding biofilm interactions with surrounding substratum and pollutants/particles can benefit from the application of existing microscopy tools. Using the example of biofilm interactions with zero-valent iron nanoparticles (nZVI), this study aims to apply various approaches in biofilm preparation and labeling for fluorescent or electron microscopy and energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry (EDS) microanalysis for accurate observations. According to the targeted microscopy method, biofilms were sampled as flocs or attached biofilm, submitted to labeling using 4’,6-diamidino-2-phenylindol, lectins PNA and ConA coupled to fluorescent dye or gold nanoparticles, and prepared for observation (fixation, cross-section, freezing, ultramicrotomy). Fluorescent microscopy revealed that nZVI were embedded in the biofilm structure as aggregates but the resolution was insufficient to observe individual nZVI. Cryo-scanning electron microscopy (SEM) observations showed nZVI aggregates close to bacteria, but it was not possible to confirm direct interactions between nZVI and cell membranes. Scanning transmission electron microscopy in the SEM (STEM-in-SEM) showed that nZVI aggregates could enter the biofilm to a depth of 7–11 µm. Bacteria were surrounded by a ring of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) preventing direct nZVI/membrane interactions. STEM/EDS mapping revealed a co-localization of nZVI aggregates with lectins suggesting a potential role of EPS in nZVI embedding. Thus, the combination of divergent microscopy approaches is a good approach to better understand and characterize biofilm/metal interactions.
Confocal microscopy was used to image stages of equine zygote development, at timed intervals, after intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) of oocytes that were matured in vivo or in vitro. After fixation for 4, 6, 8, 12, or 16 h after ICSI, zygotes were incubated with α/β tubulin antibodies and human anticentromere antibody (CREST/ACA), washed, incubated in secondary antibodies, conjugated to either Alexa 488 or Alexa 647, and incubated with 561-Phalloidin and Hoechst 33258. An Olympus IX81 spinning disk confocal microscope was used for imaging. Data were analyzed using χ2 and Fisher’s exact tests. Minor differences in developmental phases were observed for oocytes matured in vivo or in vitro. Oocytes formed pronuclei earlier when matured in vivo (67% at 6 h and 80% at 8 h) than in vitro (13% at 6 and 8 h); 80% of oocytes matured in vitro formed pronuclei by 12 h. More (p=0.04) zygotes had atypical phenotypes, indicative of a failure of normal zygote development, when oocyte maturation occurred in vitro versus in vivo (30 and 11%, respectively). Some potential zygotes from oocytes matured in vivo had normal phenotypes, although development appeared to be delayed or arrested. Confocal microscopy provided a feasible method to assess equine zygote development using limited samples.