Electron microscopy // 08.05.2022 // DECTRIS

Our Top-Five Favorite Papers On Aberration-Corrected (S)TEM

A 5-minute read

Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) allows scientists to look into the structure of materials with a much higher resolution than an optical microscope. But it is only with the aberration correction that we can now consistently reach an atomic resolution. This year, the electron microscopy community celebrates the 25th anniversary of the function and publication of the first aberration-corrected transmission electron microscope. On that occasion, we have put together a little overview of our top-five favorite publications on the subject.


Already in the 1930ies, shortly after the invention of the TEM by Ernst Ruska, scientists looked into the ways how to correct electron lenses from the naturally occurring spherical aberration (Cs). But it was not until the 1990ies that the Cs-correction was achieved for (S)TEM microscopes and opened up the path to the sub-ångström resolution. For this, we have to thank the parallel efforts by Harald Rose, Max Haider, Knut Urban and Ondrej Krivanek - and certainly many of their collaborators.

The research on aberration correction had many highlights. To celebrate its 25-year history, we have put together top-five publications on the subject. Read up!

1. Aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy for atomic-resolution studies of functional oxides

I. MacLaren, Q. M. Ramasse, International Materials Reviews, 59:3, 115-131

Enjoy a brief history of the technique, revise your STEM basis, and explore applications of aberration-corrected STEM of functional oxides. The authors also provide an outlook on the future directions in AC-STEM. 

2. High-resolution imaging with an aberration-corrected transmission electron microscope

M. Lentzen, B. Jahnen, C. L. Jia, A. Thust, K. Tillmann, K. Urban, Ultramicroscopy Volume 92, Issues 3–4, August 2002, Pages 233-242

The authors investigate the consequences of the tunable spherical aberration and suggest new imaging modes. The paper also examines novel applications of the instrument to semiconductor heterostructures and ceramic grain boundaries are examined.

3. Towards sub-Å electron beams

O. L. Krivanek, N. Dellby, A. R. Lupini, Ultramicroscopy Volume 78, Issues 1–4, June 1999, Pages 1-11

In this landmark paper, the authors outline the design of a CS corrector that pays particular attention to the influence of instabilities and present outstanding results. 

4. Atomic-resolution protein structure determination by cryo-EM

K. M. Yip, N. Fischer, E. Paknia, A. Chari, H. Stark, Nature volume 587, pages157–161 (2020)

The authors state that “the direct visualization of atom positions is essential for understanding the mechanisms of protein-catalyzed chemical reactions”. The paper reports a 1.25 Å-resolution structure of apoferritin obtained by cryo-EM with a newly developed aberration-corrected electron microscope for the first time.

5. Real-space visualization of intrinsic magnetic fields of an antiferromagnet

Y. Kohno, T. Seki, S. D. Findlay, Y. Ikuhara, N. Shibata, Nature volume 602, pages234–239 (2022)

Learn more about an improved design of electron optics for high-resolution EM of magnetic samples. The authors use how real-space visualization of magnetic field distribution inside antiferromagnetic haematite (α-Fe2O3) using atomic-resolution DPC STEM in a magnetic-field-free environment.

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