Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Theory and application of the vector pair correlation function for real-space crystallographic analysis of order/disorder correlations from STEM images

Published Web Location

Deviations of local structure and chemistry from the average crystalline unit cell are increasingly recognized to have a significant influence on the properties of many technologically important materials. Here, we present the vector pair correlation function (vPCF) as a new real-space crystallographic analysis method, which can be applied to atomic-resolution scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) images to quantify and analyze structural order/disorder correlations. Our STEM-based vPCFs have several advantages over radial PCFs and/or 3D pair distribution functions from x-ray total scattering: vPCFs explicitly retain crystallographic orientation information, are spatially resolved, can be applied directly on a sublattice basis, and are suitable for any material that can be imaged with STEM. To show the utility of our approach, we measure partial vPCFs in Ba5SmSn3Nb7O30 (BSSN), a tetragonal tungsten bronze (TTB) structured complex oxide. Many TTBs are known to be classical or relaxor ferroelectrics, and these properties have been correlated with the presence of superlattice ordering. BSSN, specifically, exhibits relaxor behavior and an incommensurate structural modulation. From the vPCF data, we observe that, of the cation sites, only the Ba (A2) sublattice is structurally modulated. We then infer the local modulation vector and reveal a marked anisotropy in its correlation length. Finally, short-range correlated polar displacements on the B2 cation sites are observed. This work introduces the vPCF as a powerful real-space crystallography technique, which enables direct, robust quantification of short-to-long range order on a sublattice-specific basis and is applicable to a wide range of complex material types.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View