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      Three-dimensional imaging of dislocations in a nanoparticle at atomic resolution

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          Abstract

          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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          Most cited references 32

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          Invited review article: Atom probe tomography.

          The technique of atom probe tomography (APT) is reviewed with an emphasis on illustrating what is possible with the technique both now and in the future. APT delivers the highest spatial resolution (sub-0.3-nm) three-dimensional compositional information of any microscopy technique. Recently, APT has changed dramatically with new hardware configurations that greatly simplify the technique and improve the rate of data acquisition. In addition, new methods have been developed to fabricate suitable specimens from new classes of materials. Applications of APT have expanded from structural metals and alloys to thin multilayer films on planar substrates, dielectric films, semiconducting structures and devices, and ceramic materials. This trend toward a broader range of materials and applications is likely to continue.
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            Three-dimensional atomic imaging of crystalline nanoparticles.

            Determining the three-dimensional (3D) arrangement of atoms in crystalline nanoparticles is important for nanometre-scale device engineering and also for applications involving nanoparticles, such as optoelectronics or catalysis. A nanoparticle's physical and chemical properties are controlled by its exact 3D morphology, structure and composition. Electron tomography enables the recovery of the shape of a nanoparticle from a series of projection images. Although atomic-resolution electron microscopy has been feasible for nearly four decades, neither electron tomography nor any other experimental technique has yet demonstrated atomic resolution in three dimensions. Here we report the 3D reconstruction of a complex crystalline nanoparticle at atomic resolution. To achieve this, we combined aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy, statistical parameter estimation theory and discrete tomography. Unlike conventional electron tomography, only two images of the target--a silver nanoparticle embedded in an aluminium matrix--are sufficient for the reconstruction when combined with available knowledge about the particle's crystallographic structure. Additional projections confirm the reliability of the result. The results we present help close the gap between the atomic resolution achievable in two-dimensional electron micrographs and the coarser resolution that has hitherto been obtained by conventional electron tomography.
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              Investigations of dislocation strain fields using weak beams

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature
                Nature
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                0028-0836
                1476-4687
                April 2013
                March 27 2013
                April 2013
                : 496
                : 7443
                : 74-77
                Article
                10.1038/nature12009
                23535594
                © 2013

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