Efficient linear phase contrast in scanning transmission electron microscopy with matched illumination and detector interferometry.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms10719
The ability to image light elements in soft matter at atomic resolution enables unprecedented insight into the structure and properties of molecular heterostructures and beam-sensitive nanomaterials. In this study, we introduce a scanning transmission electron microscopy technique combining a pre-specimen phase plate designed to produce a probe with structured phase with a high-speed direct electron detector to generate nearly linear contrast images with high efficiency. We demonstrate this method by using both experiment and simulation to simultaneously image the atomic-scale structure of weakly scattering amorphous carbon and strongly scattering gold nanoparticles. Our method demonstrates strong contrast for both materials, making it a promising candidate for structural determination of heterogeneous soft/hard matter samples even at low electron doses comparable to traditional phase-contrast transmission electron microscopy. Simulated images demonstrate the extension of this technique to the challenging problem of structural determination of biological material at the surface of inorganic crystals.