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Crystalline materials used in technological applications are often complex assemblies composed of multiple phases and differently oriented grains. Robust identification of the phases and orientation relationships from these samples is crucial, but the information extracted from the diffraction condition probed by an electron beam is often incomplete. We have developed an automated crystal orientation mapping (ACOM) procedure which uses a converged electron probe to collect diffraction patterns from multiple locations across a complex sample. We provide an algorithm to determine the orientation of each diffraction pattern based on a fast sparse correlation method. We demonstrate the speed and accuracy of our method by indexing diffraction patterns generated using both kinematical and dynamical simulations. We have also measured orientation maps from an experimental dataset consisting of a complex polycrystalline twisted helical AuAgPd nanowire. From these maps we identify twin planes between adjacent grains, which may be responsible for the twisted helical structure. All of our methods are made freely available as open source code, including tutorials which can be easily adapted to perform ACOM measurements on diffraction pattern datasets.
High-throughput grain mapping with sub-nanometer spatial resolution is demonstrated using scanning nanobeam electron diffraction (also known as 4D scanning transmission electron microscopy, or 4D-STEM) combined with high-speed direct-electron detection. An electron probe size down to 0.5 nm in diameter is used and the sample investigated is a gold–palladium nanoparticle catalyst. Computational analysis of the 4D-STEM data sets is performed using a disk registration algorithm to identify the diffraction peaks followed by feature learning to map the individual grains. Two unsupervised feature learning techniques are compared: principal component analysis (PCA) and non-negative matrix factorization (NNMF). The characteristics of the PCA versus NNMF output are compared and the potential of the 4D-STEM approach for statistical analysis of grain orientations at high spatial resolution is discussed.
Scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) allows for imaging, diffraction, and spectroscopy of materials on length scales ranging from microns to atoms. By using a high-speed, direct electron detector, it is now possible to record a full two-dimensional (2D) image of the diffracted electron beam at each probe position, typically a 2D grid of probe positions. These 4D-STEM datasets are rich in information, including signatures of the local structure, orientation, deformation, electromagnetic fields, and other sample-dependent properties. However, extracting this information requires complex analysis pipelines that include data wrangling, calibration, analysis, and visualization, all while maintaining robustness against imaging distortions and artifacts. In this paper, we present py4DSTEM, an analysis toolkit for measuring material properties from 4D-STEM datasets, written in the Python language and released with an open-source license. We describe the algorithmic steps for dataset calibration and various 4D-STEM property measurements in detail and present results from several experimental datasets. We also implement a simple and universal file format appropriate for electron microscopy data in py4DSTEM, which uses the open-source HDF5 standard. We hope this tool will benefit the research community and help improve the standards for data and computational methods in electron microscopy, and we invite the community to contribute to this ongoing project.
One of the primary uses for transmission electron microscopy (TEM) is to measure diffraction pattern images in order to determine a crystal structure and orientation. In nanobeam electron diffraction (NBED), we scan a moderately converged electron probe over the sample to acquire thousands or even millions of sequential diffraction images, a technique that is especially appropriate for polycrystalline samples. However, due to the large Ewald sphere of TEM, excitation of Bragg peaks can be extremely sensitive to sample tilt, varying strongly for even a few degrees of sample tilt for crystalline samples. In this paper, we present multibeam electron diffraction (MBED), where multiple probe-forming apertures are used to create multiple scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) probes, all of which interact with the sample simultaneously. We detail designs for MBED experiments, and a method for using a focused ion beam to produce MBED apertures. We show the efficacy of the MBED technique for crystalline orientation mapping using both simulations and proof-of-principle experiments. We also show how the angular information in MBED can be used to perform 3D tomographic reconstruction of samples without needing to tilt or scan the sample multiple times. Finally, we also discuss future opportunities for the MBED method.
Electron microscopy is uniquely suited for atomic-resolution imaging of heterogeneous and complex materials, where composition, physical, and electronic structure need to be analyzed simultaneously. Historically, the technique has demonstrated optimal performance at room temperature, since practical aspects such as vibration, drift, and contamination limit exploration at extreme temperature regimes. Conversely, quantum materials that exhibit exotic physical properties directly tied to the quantum mechanical nature of electrons are best studied (and often only exist) at extremely low temperatures. As a result, emergent phenomena, such as superconductivity, are typically studied using scanning probe-based techniques that can provide exquisite structural and electronic characterization, but are necessarily limited to surfaces. In this article, we focus not on the various methods that have been used to examine quantum materials at extremely low temperatures, but on what could be accomplished in the field of quantum materials if the power of electron microscopy to provide structural analysis at the atomic scale was extended to extremely low temperatures.