Energy filtering transmission electron microscopy (EFTEM) has matured into an important nanoanalytical technique in both materials and life sciences. One of the technique′s main advantages stems from the possibility to quickly form images that contain two-dimensional elemental information for most elements (Li to Pu) from relatively large specimen areas with nanometer resolution. Over the last years numerous and wide-ranging applications have demonstrated its almost unrivalled power for assessing typical materials science questions.
Both in-column or post-column filter microscopes have reached a high performance level, but future improvements are still desirable, in particular with respect to increased transmissivity, improved isochromaticity and higher detection efficiency. Current instruments allow to acquire elemental maps with 1-5 nm spatial resolution limited mainly by the aberrations of the microscope and by the quality of the specimen. As recently shown 0.4 nm resolution is feasible.
One major practical problem of EFTEM compositional mapping is the poor signal-to-noise ratio, which means that experimental parameters have to be chosen very carefully in order to optimize this ratio.