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      Three-Dimensional Imaging of Dislocations in a Ti–35mass%Nb Alloy by Electron Tomography

      Materials

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          Electron tomography at 2.4-ångström resolution.

          Transmission electron microscopy is a powerful imaging tool that has found broad application in materials science, nanoscience and biology. With the introduction of aberration-corrected electron lenses, both the spatial resolution and the image quality in transmission electron microscopy have been significantly improved and resolution below 0.5 ångströms has been demonstrated. To reveal the three-dimensional (3D) structure of thin samples, electron tomography is the method of choice, with cubic-nanometre resolution currently achievable. Discrete tomography has recently been used to generate a 3D atomic reconstruction of a silver nanoparticle two to three nanometres in diameter, but this statistical method assumes prior knowledge of the particle's lattice structure and requires that the atoms fit rigidly on that lattice. Here we report the experimental demonstration of a general electron tomography method that achieves atomic-scale resolution without initial assumptions about the sample structure. By combining a novel projection alignment and tomographic reconstruction method with scanning transmission electron microscopy, we have determined the 3D structure of an approximately ten-nanometre gold nanoparticle at 2.4-ångström resolution. Although we cannot definitively locate all of the atoms inside the nanoparticle, individual atoms are observed in some regions of the particle and several grains are identified in three dimensions. The 3D surface morphology and internal lattice structure revealed are consistent with a distorted icosahedral multiply twinned particle. We anticipate that this general method can be applied not only to determine the 3D structure of nanomaterials at atomic-scale resolution, but also to improve the spatial resolution and image quality in other tomography fields.
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            Three-dimensional imaging of dislocations in a nanoparticle at atomic resolution.

            Dislocations and their interactions strongly influence many material properties, ranging from the strength of metals and alloys to the efficiency of light-emitting diodes and laser diodes. Several experimental methods can be used to visualize dislocations. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) has long been used to image dislocations in materials, and high-resolution electron microscopy can reveal dislocation core structures in high detail, particularly in annular dark-field mode. A TEM image, however, represents a two-dimensional projection of a three-dimensional (3D) object (although stereo TEM provides limited information about 3D dislocations). X-ray topography can image dislocations in three dimensions, but with reduced resolution. Using weak-beam dark-field TEM and scanning TEM, electron tomography has been used to image 3D dislocations at a resolution of about five nanometres (refs 15, 16). Atom probe tomography can offer higher-resolution 3D characterization of dislocations, but requires needle-shaped samples and can detect only about 60 per cent of the atoms in a sample. Here we report 3D imaging of dislocations in materials at atomic resolution by electron tomography. By applying 3D Fourier filtering together with equal-slope tomographic reconstruction, we observe nearly all the atoms in a multiply twinned platinum nanoparticle. We observed atomic steps at 3D twin boundaries and imaged the 3D core structure of edge and screw dislocations at atomic resolution. These dislocations and the atomic steps at the twin boundaries, which appear to be stress-relief mechanisms, are not visible in conventional two-dimensional projections. The ability to image 3D disordered structures such as dislocations at atomic resolution is expected to find applications in materials science, nanoscience, solid-state physics and chemistry.
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              Transmission electron microtomography without the "missing wedge" for quantitative structural analysis.

              A three-dimensional (3D) visualization and structural analysis of a rod-shaped specimen of a zirconia/polymer nanocomposite material were carried out by transmission electron microtomography (TEMT) with particular emphasis on complete rotation of the specimen (tilt angular range: +/-90 degrees ). In order to achieve such an ideal experimental condition for the TEMT, improvements in the specimen as well as the sample holder were made. A rod-shaped specimen was necessary in order to obtain a high transmission of the specimen upon tilting to large angles. The image resolution of the reconstructed tomogram was isotropic, in sharp contrast to the anisotropic image resolution of the conventional TEMT with a limited angular range (the "missing wedge" problem). A volume fraction of zirconia, phi, evaluated from the 3D reconstruction was in quantitative agreement with the known composition of the nanocomposite. A series of 3D reconstructions was made from the tilt series with complete rotation by limiting the maximum tilt angle, alpha, from which a couple of structural parameters, the volume fraction and surface area per unit volume, Sigma, of the zirconia, were evaluated as a function of alpha. It was confirmed from actual experimental data that both phi and Sigma slightly decreased with the increasing alpha and reached constant values at around alpha=80 degrees , suggesting that the specimen may have to be tilted to +/-80 degrees for truly quantitative measurements.
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                Journal
                10.3390/ma8041924

                https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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