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New Imaging Technique Able to See Elements that are ‘Invisible’ to Common Methods
Molecular Foundry scientists have developed a new imaging technique that greatly improves images of light elements using fewer electrons.
Significance and Impact
The MIDI-STEM method may prove to solve the challenge of seeing structures with a mixture of heavy and light elements in close proximity, thereby allowing high resolution electron microscopy to be used on a broader set of hybrid materials.
- The technique, MIDI-STEM, for matched illumination and detector interferometry scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM), combines STEM with an optical device called a phase plate that modifies the alternating peak-to-trough, wave-like properties of the electron beam.
- The phase plate modifies the electron beam in a way that allows subtle changes in a material to be measured, even revealing materials that would be invisible in traditional STEM imaging.
- Tested on samples of nanoscale gold and carbon, the method featured strong contrast for both materials.
- The team was brought together through the Foundry's new Theme Postdoc Program that is designed to tackle highly multidisciplinary research challenges that would result in the development of new capabilities for future users.
C. Ophus, J. Ciston, J. Pierce, T. R. Harvey, J. Chess, B. J. McMorran, C. Czarnik, H. H. Rose & Peter Ercius. Nat Commun. 2016 29, 7:10719.