Surprising as it may seem, aberration correction for the scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM) is now a practical proposition. The first-ever commercial spherical aberration corrector for a STEM was delivered by Nion to IBM Research Center in June 2000, and other deliveries have taken place since or are imminent. At the same time, the development of corrector hardware and software is still proceeding at full speed, and our understanding of what are the most important factors for the successful operation of a corrector is deepening continuously.
Fig. 1 shows two high-angle dark field (HADF) images of  Si obtained with the IBM VG HB501 STEM operating at 120 kV, about 2 weeks after we fitted a quadrupole-octupole corrector into it. Fig. 1(a) shows the best HADF image that could be obtained with the corrector's quadrupoles on but its octupoles off. Sample structures were captured down to about 2.5 Å detail, easily possible in a STEM with a high resolution objective lens with a spherical aberration coefficient (Cs) of 1.3 mm. Fig. 1(b) shows a HADF image obtained after the Cs-correcting octupoles were turned on and the corrector tuned up. The resolution has now improved to 1.36 Å. This is sufficient to resolve the correct separation of the closely-spaced Si columns.