To save content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save content items to your Kindle, first ensure email@example.com
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
Metal chalcogenides have attracted great attention because of their broad applications. It has been well acknowledged that microstructure can alter the intrinsic properties and performance of metal chalcogenides. The structure–property–performance relationships can be investigated at atomic scale with scanning transmission and transmission electron microscopy (STEM and TEM). Nevertheless, careful specimen preparation is paramount for accurate analyses and interpretations. In this work, we compare the effects of a variety of well-established TEM specimen preparation methods on the observed microstructure of an ingot stoichiometric lead telluride (PbTe). Most importantly, from aberration corrected STEM and first principles calculations, we discovered that argon (Ar) ion milling can lead to surface irradiation damage in the form of Pb vacancy clusters and self-interstitial atom (SIA) clusters. The SIA clusters appear as orthogonal nanoscale features when characterized along the <001> crystal orientation of the rock salt structured PbTe. This obfuscates the interpretation of the intrinsic microstructure of metal chalcogenides, especially lead chalcogenides. We demonstrate that with sufficiently low energy (300 eV) Ar ion cleaning or appropriate high-temperature annealing, the surface damage layer can be properly cleaned and the orthogonal nanoscale features are significantly reduced. This reveals the materials’ intrinsic structure and can be used as the standard protocol for future TEM specimen preparation of lead-based chalcogenide materials.