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The composition of GaAs measured by laser-assisted atom probe tomography may be inaccurate depending on the experimental conditions. In this work, we assess the role of the DC field and the impinging laser energy on such compositional bias. The DC field is found to have a major influence, while the laser energy has a weaker one within the range of parameters explored. The atomic fraction of Ga may vary from 0.55 at low-field conditions to 0.35 at high field. These results have been interpreted in terms of preferential evaporation of Ga at high field. The deficit of As is most likely explained by the formation of neutral As complexes either by direct ejection from the tip surface or upon the dissociation of large clusters. The study of multiple detection events supports this interpretation.
Plastic deformation of micron-scale crystalline materials differs considerably from bulk samples as it is characterized by stochastic strain bursts. To obtain a detailed picture of the intermittent deformation phenomena, numerous micron-sized specimens must be fabricated and tested. An improved focused ion beam fabrication method is proposed to prepare non-tapered micropillars with excellent control over their shape. Moreover, the fabrication time is less compared with other methods. The in situ compression device developed in our laboratory allows high-accuracy sample positioning and force/displacement measurements with high data sampling rates. The collective avalanche-like motion of the dislocations is observed as stress decreases on the stress–strain curves. An acoustic emission (AE) technique was employed for the first time to study the deformation behavior of micropillars. The AE technique provides important additional in situ information about the underlying processes during plastic deformation and is especially sensitive to the collective avalanche-like motion of the dislocations observed as the stress decreases on the deformation curves.
Automated inclusion microanalysis in steel samples by computer-based scanning electron microscopy provides rapid quantitative information on micro-inclusion distribution, composition, size distribution, morphology, and concentration. Performing the analysis at a lower accelerating voltage (10 kV), rather than the generally used 20 kV, improves analysis accuracy and may improve spatial resolution, but at the cost of a smaller backscattered electron signal and potentially smaller rate of generation of characteristic X-rays. These effects were quantified by simulation and practical measurements.
Digital image correlation (DIC) in a scanning electron microscope and high-angular resolution electron backscatter diffraction (HREBSD) provide valuable and complementary data concerning local deformation at the microscale. However, standard surface preparation techniques are mutually exclusive, which makes combining these techniques in situ impossible. This paper introduces a new method of applying surface patterning for DIC, namely a urethane microstamp, that provides a pattern with enough contrast for DIC at low accelerating voltages, but is virtually transparent at the higher voltages necessary for HREBSD and conventional EBSD analysis. Furthermore, microstamping is inexpensive and repeatable, and is more suitable to the analysis of patterns from complex surface geometries and larger surface areas than other patterning techniques.
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.
We trace Sn nanoparticles (NPs) produced from SnO2 nanotubes (NTs) during lithiation initialized by high energy e-beam irradiation. The growth dynamics of Sn NPs is visualized in liquid electrolytes by graphene liquid cell transmission electron microscopy. The observation reveals that Sn NPs grow on the surface of SnO2 NTs via coalescence and the final shape of agglomerated NPs is governed by surface energy of the Sn NPs and the interfacial energy between Sn NPs and SnO2 NTs. Our result will likely benefit more rational material design of the ideal interface for facile ion insertion.
The formation of a bright-field microscopic image of a transparent phase object is described in terms of elementary geometrical optics. Our approach is based on the premise that the image replicates the intensity distribution (real or virtual) at the front focal plane of the objective. The task is therefore reduced to finding the change in intensity at the focal plane caused by the object. This can be done by ray tracing complemented with the requirement of energy conservation. Despite major simplifications involved in such an analysis, it reproduces some results from the paraxial wave theory. In addition, our analysis suggests two ways of extracting quantitative phase information from bright-field images: by vertically shifting the focal plane (the approach used in the transport-of-intensity analysis) or by varying the angle of illumination. In principle, information thus obtained should allow reconstruction of the object morphology.
Electron tomography has become an essential tool for three-dimensional (3D) characterization of nanomaterials. In recent years, advances have been made in specimen preparation and mounting, acquisition geometries, and reconstruction algorithms. All of these components work together to optimize the resolution and clarity of an electron tomogram. However, one important component of the data-processing has received less attention: the 2D tilt series alignment. This is challenging for a number of reasons, namely because the nature of the data sets and the need to be coherently aligned over the full range of angles. An inaccurate alignment may be difficult to identify, yet can significantly limit the final 3D resolution. In this work, we present an improved center-of-mass alignment model that allows us to overcome discrepancies from unwanted objects that enter the imaging area throughout the tilt series. In particular, we develop an approach to overcome changes in the total mass upon rotation of the imaging area. We apply our approach to accurately recover small Pt nanoparticles embedded in a zeolite that may otherwise go undetected both in the 2D microscopy images and the 3D reconstruction. In addition to this, we highlight the particular effectiveness of the compressed sensing methods with this data set.
Image processing and analysis is an effective tool for monitoring and fault diagnosis of activated sludge (AS) wastewater treatment plants. The AS image comprise of flocs (microbial aggregates) and filamentous bacteria. In this paper, nine different approaches are proposed for image segmentation of phase-contrast microscopic (PCM) images of AS samples. The proposed strategies are assessed for their effectiveness from the perspective of microscopic artifacts associated with PCM. The first approach uses an algorithm that is based on the idea that different color space representation of images other than red-green-blue may have better contrast. The second uses an edge detection approach. The third strategy, employs a clustering algorithm for the segmentation and the fourth applies local adaptive thresholding. The fifth technique is based on texture-based segmentation and the sixth uses watershed algorithm. The seventh adopts a split-and-merge approach. The eighth employs Kittler’s thresholding. Finally, the ninth uses a top-hat and bottom-hat filtering-based technique. The approaches are assessed, and analyzed critically with reference to the artifacts of PCM. Gold approximations of ground truth images are prepared to assess the segmentations. Overall, the edge detection-based approach exhibits the best results in terms of accuracy, and the texture-based algorithm in terms of false negative ratio. The respective scenarios are explained for suitability of edge detection and texture-based algorithms.
The potential of the application of an X-ray excited optical luminescence (XEOL) analyzer and portable analyzers, composed of a cathodoluminescence (CL) spectrometer and electron probe microanalyzer (EPMA), to the on-line and on-site analysis of nonmetallic inclusions in steel is investigated as the first step leading to their practical use. MgAl2O4 spinel and Al2O3 particles were identified by capturing the luminescence as a result of irradiating X-rays in air on a model sample containing MgAl2O4 spinel and Al2O3 particles in the size range from 20 to 50 μm. We were able to identify the MgAl2O4 spinel and Al2O3 particles in the same sample using the portable CL spectrometer. In both cases, not all of the particles in the sample were identified because the luminescence intensities of the smaller Al2O3 in particular were too low to detect. These problems could be solved by using an X-ray tube with a higher power and increasing the beam current of the portable CL spectrometer. The portable EPMA distinguished between the MgAl2O4 spinel and Al2O3 particles whose luminescent colors were detected using the portable CL spectrometer. Therefore, XEOL analysis has potential for the on-line analysis of nonmetallic inclusions in steel if we have information on the luminescence colors of the nonmetallic inclusions. In addition, a portable EPMA–CL analyzer would be able to perform on-site analysis of nonmetallic inclusions in steel.
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.
Endogenous melatonin is a hormone secreted by pineal gland; it has several roles in metabolism, reproduction, and remarkable antioxidant properties. Studies on the melatonin effect on the adrenal glands which are important endocrine organs, controlling essential physiological functions, are still deficient. In this study, we attempted to investigate the effect of exogenous melatonin treatment on the adrenal cortex and medulla using several approaches. Adrenal glands of 15 Soay ram were examined to detect the effect of melatonin treatment. Our results revealed that the cells of adrenal cortex of the treated animals were separated by wide and numerous blood sinusoids and showed signs of increase steroidogenic activity, which are evidenced by functional hypertrophy with increase profiles of mitochondria, smooth endoplasmic reticulum, and lipid droplets. The most striking ultrastructural features in the medulla of the treated group were the engorgement of chromaffin cells with enlarged secretory granules enclosed within a significantly increased diameter of these cells. The cytoplasm of these cells showed numerous mitochondria, rough endoplasmic reticulum (rER), Golgi apparatus, lysosomes, and glycogen granules. Exocytosis of secretory granules to the lumen of blood vessels was evident in the treated group. Piecemeal degranulation mode of secretion was recorded after melatonin treatment. Chromaffin cells in the control group expressed moderate immunoreactivity to Synaptophysin and tyrosine hydroxylase, compared with intensified expression after melatonin treatment. The ganglion cells of the melatonin-treated group showed a significant increase in diameter with numerous rER. The most interesting feature in this study is the presence of small granule chromaffin cells (SGC) and telocytes (TCs) for the first time in the adrenal glands of sheep. Moreover, these SGC cells, Schwann cells, fibroblasts, and progenitor stem cells showed a stimulatory response. The TCs were small branched cells scattered in the adrenal glands around cortical cells, chromaffin cells, nerve fibers, and blood vessels. These cells increased significantly in number, length of their telopodes, and secretory activity after melatonin treatment. In addition, multiple profiles of unmyelinated nerve fibers were demonstrated in all treated specimens. These results indicated that melatonin treatment caused a stimulatory action on all cellular and neuronal elements of the adrenal gland. This study may act as a new direction for treatment of adrenal insufficiency.
Calcite spherulites have been observed in many laboratory experiments with different bacteria, and spherulitic growth has received much interest in mineralogy research. However, the nucleation and growth mechanism, as well as geological significance of calcite spherulites in solution with bacteria is still unclear. Herein, spherulites composed of an amorphous core, a Mg-calcite body and an organic film were precipitated by the Curvibacter lanceolatus HJ-1 bacterial strain in a solution with a molar Mg/Ca ratio of 3. Based on the results, we provide a possible mechanism for the biomineralization of Mg-calcite spherulites. First, amorphous calcium carbonate particles are deposited and aggregated into a stable sphere-like core in combination with organic molecules. The core then acts as the nucleus of spherulitic radial growth. Finally, the organic film grows on the surface of Mg-calcite spherulites as a result of bacterial metabolism and calcification. These findings provide insight into the growth mode and crystallization of biogenic spherulites during biomineralization, and are of significance in the application of novel biological materials.
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.
The great potential of scanning electron microscopy with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM-EDX) is in detection of unusual chemical elements included in ancient human dental calculus to verify hypotheses about life and burial habits of historic populations and individuals. Elemental spectra were performed from archeological samples of three chosen individuals from different time periods. The unusual presence of magnesium, aluminum, and silicon in the first sample could confirm the hypothesis of high degree of dental abrasion caused by particles from grinding stones in flour. In the second sample, presence of copper could confirm that bronze jewelery could lie near the buried body. The elemental composition of the third sample with the presence of lead and copper confirms the origin of individual to Napoleonic Wars because the damage to his teeth could be explained by the systematic utilization of the teeth for the opening of paper cartridges (a charge with a dose of gunpowder and a bullet), which were used during the 18th and the 19th century AD. All these results contribute to the reconstruction of life (first and third individual) and burial (second individual) habits of historic populations and individuals.