Journal article

Tilt-less 3-D electron imaging and reconstruction of complex curvilinear structures

The ability to obtain three-dimensional (3-D) information about morphologies of nanostructures elucidates many interesting properties of materials in both physical and biological sciences. Here we demonstrate a novel method in scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) that gives a fast and reliable assessment of the 3-D configuration of curvilinear nanostructures, all without needing to tilt the sample through an arc. Using one-dimensional crystalline defects known as dislocations as a prototypical example of a complex curvilinear object, we demonstrate their 3-D reconstruction two orders of magnitude faster than by standard tilt-arc TEM tomographic techniques, from data recorded by selecting different ray paths of the convergent STEM probe. Due to its speed and immunity to problems associated with a tilt arc, the tilt-less 3-D imaging offers important advantages for investigations of radiation-sensitive, polycrystalline, or magnetic materials. Further, by using a segmented detector, the total electron dose is reduced to a single STEM raster scan acquisition; our tilt-less approach will therefore open new avenues for real-time 3-D electron imaging of dynamic processes.


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