Published online by Cambridge University Press: 02 January 2018
We have applied mechanical exfoliation for the preparation of ultra-thin samples of the phyllosilicate mineral biotite. We demonstrate that the 'scotch tape' approach, which was made famous as an early method for production of single-atom-thick graphene, can be used for production of sheet-silicate specimens that are sufficiently thin to allow high-resolution transmission electron microscope (HRTEM) imaging to be achieved successfully while also being free from the specimen preparation artefacts that are often caused by ion-beam milling techniques. Exfoliation of the biotite parallel to the (001) planes has produced layers as thin as two structural TOT units thick (∼2 nm). The minimal specimen thickness enabled not only HRTEM imaging but also the application of subsequent exit wavefunction restoration to reveal the pristine biotite lattice. Exit wavefunction restoration recovers the full complex electron wave from a focal series of HRTEM images, removing the effects of coherent lens aberrations. This combination of methods therefore produces images in which the observed features are readily interpreted to obtain atomic resolution structural information.
Present address: Department of Physics, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Nig˘de University, 51000 Nig˘de, Turkey