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In situ transmission electron microscope (TEM) characterization techniques provide valuable information on structure–property correlations to understand the behavior of materials at the nanoscale. However, understanding nanoscale structures and their interaction with the electron beam is pivotal for the reliable interpretation of in situ/ex situ TEM studies. Here, we report that oxides commonly used in nanoelectronic applications, such as transistor gate oxides or memristive devices, are prone to electron beam induced damage that causes small structural changes even under very low dose conditions, eventually changing their electrical properties as examined via in situ measurements. In this work, silicon, titanium, and niobium oxide thin films are used for in situ TEM electrical characterization studies. The electron beam induced reduction of the oxides turns these insulators into conductors. The conductivity change is reversible by exposure to air, supporting the idea of electron beam reduction of oxides as primary damage mechanism. Through these measurements we propose a limit for the critical dose to be considered for in situ scanning electron microscopy and TEM characterization studies.
A new closed cell is presented for in situ X-ray ptychography which allows studies under gas flow and at elevated temperature. In order to gain complementary information by transmission and scanning electron microscopy, the cell makes use of a Protochips E-chipTM which contains a small, thin electron transparent window and allows heating. Two gold-based systems, 50 nm gold particles and nanoporous gold as a relevant catalyst sample, were used for studying the feasibility of the cell. Measurements showing a resolution around 40 nm have been achieved under a flow of synthetic air and during heating up to temperatures of 933 K. An elevated temperature exhibited little influence on image quality and resolution. With this study, the potential of in situ hard X-ray ptychography for investigating annealing processes of real catalyst samples is demonstrated. Furthermore, the possibility to use the same sample holder for ex situ electron microscopy before and after the in situ study underlines the unique possibilities available with this combination of electron microscopy and X-ray microscopy on the same sample.