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Investigating the earliest stages of crystallization requires the transmission electron microscope (TEM) and is particularly challenging for materials which can be affected by the electron beam. Typically, when imaging at magnifications high enough to observe local crystallinity, the electron beam's current density must be high to produce adequate image contrast. Yet, minimizing the electron dose is necessary to reduce the changes caused by the beam. With the advent of a sensitive, high-speed, direct-detection camera for a TEM that is corrected for spherical aberration, it is possible to probe the early stages of crystallization at the atomic scale. High-quality images with low contrast can now be analyzed using new computing methods. In the present paper, this approach is illustrated for crystallization in a Ge2Sb2Te5 (GST-225) phase-change material which can undergo particularly rapid phase transformations and is sensitive to the electron beam. A thin (20 nm) film of GST-225 has been directly imaged in the TEM and the low-dose images processed using Python scripting to extract details of the nanoscale nuclei. Quantitative analysis of the processed images in a video sequence also allows the growth of such nuclei to be followed.
This paper characterizes novel “star” defects in GaN films grown with metal–organic vapor phase deposition (MOVPE) on GaN substrates with electron channeling contrast imaging (ECCI) and high-resolution electron backscatter diffraction (HREBSD). These defects are hundreds of microns in size and tend to aggregate threading dislocations at their centers. They are the intersection of six nearly ideal low-angle tilt boundaries composed of $\langle a\rangle$-type pyramidal edge dislocations, each on a unique slip system.
Cryogenic transmission electron microscopy is simply transmission electron microscopy conducted on specimens that are cooled in the microscope. The target temperature of the specimen might range from just below ambient temperature to less than 4 K. In general, as the temperature decreases, cost increases, especially below –77°C when liquid He is required. We have two reasons for wanting to cool the specimen—improving stability of the material or observing a material whose properties change at lower temperatures. Both types of study have a long history. The cause of excitement in this field today is that we have a perfect storm of research activity—electron microscopes are almost stable with minimal drift (we can correct what drift there is), we can prepare specimens from the bulk or build them up, we have spherical-aberration-corrected lenses and monochromated beams, we have direct-electron-detector cameras, and computers are becoming powerful enough to handle all the data we produce.