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The development and implementation of high-stability monochromators in state-of-the-art aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopes has enabled materials characterization with an energy resolution as good as 3 meV. This allows the vibrational modes, which would otherwise be obscured by the energy spread of the electron beam, to be probed with very high precision in molecular materials. Since the vibrational energies depend on the weight of the atomic nuclei, vibrational spectroscopy can distinguish isotopes whose only difference lies in their neutron content. This opens up isotopic analysis and mapping in transmission electron microscopy as two important new research areas. Here, we review the monochromated electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS) instrumentation, discuss optimal methods for probing beam-sensitive materials without destroying them, and review key nanoscale isotope-resolved results.
Liquid cell transmission electron microscopy (TEM) has become an essential tool for studying the structure and properties of both hard and soft condensed-matter samples, as well as liquids themselves. Liquid cell sample holders, often consisting of two thin window layers separating the liquid sample from the high vacuum of the microscope column, have been designed to control in situ conditions, including temperature, voltage/current, or flow through the window region. While high-resolution and time-resolved TEM imaging probes the structure, shape, and dynamics of liquid cell samples, information about the chemical composition and spatially resolved bonding is often difficult to obtain due to the liquid thickness, the window layers, the holder configuration, or beam-induced radiolysis. In this article, we review different approaches to quantitative liquid cell electron microscopy, including recent developments to perform energy-dispersive x-ray and electron energy-loss spectroscopy experiments on samples in a liquid environment or the liquid itself. We also cover graphene liquid cells and other ultrathin window layer holders.