Nanoscale materials show a variety of interesting physical and chemical properties. Since the properties are mostly determined by mesoscopic- and atomicscale areas of the materials, characterization of nanoscale materials at the atomic level is crucial for understanding the origin of their properties as well as for tailoring them to industrial needs. High-resolution electron microscopy (HREM) is an effective method to observe atomic structures in nanophase materials. The “structure-imaging technique,” originated by Ueda et al., and Cowley and Iijima, contributed much to the development of the method. Innovations are anticipated in (1) three-dimensional analysis of nanophase materials in real space, (2) observation of dynamic phenomena, and (3) extraction of compositional and physical information from nanometer-sized areas. Using the structure-imaging technique, one can observe directly nanometer-scale particles and defect structures such as voids and line and plane defects in crystals, including surfaces and interfaces. There were previously some limitations on the study of the dynamic process on the atomic level since images were captured on films. The recent development of high-sensitivity silicon-integrated-target-television (SIT-TV) cameras has initiated a new stage of HREM.
Our time-resolved-high-resolution-electron-microscopy (TRHREM) system is composed of a 200-kV HREM (JEOL: JEM-2010) equipped with a high-sensitivity SIT-TV camera, various types of dedicated sample holders, an ultrahigh-vacuum (UHV) sample-preparation chamber, and a digital videotape recorder, as partly illustrated in Figure 5. The HREM images at 0.8–1.0-million magnification are recorded on the videotape recorder. In the U.S.-Japan TV system, one “frame image” of 1/30-s time resolution is composed of two interlaced “field images” of 1/60-s time resolution. The digital videotape recorder enables us to output the two “field images” separately from two frame memories.