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Sub-Ångstrom Atomic-Resolution Imaging from Heavy Atoms to Light Atoms

  • Michael A. O'Keefe (a1) and Yang Shao-Horn (a2)

John Cowley and his group at Arizona State University pioneered the use of transmission electron microscopy (TEM) for high-resolution imaging. Three decades ago they achieved images showing the crystal unit cell content at better than 4 Å resolution. Over the years, this achievement has inspired improvements in resolution that have enabled researchers to pinpoint the positions of heavy atom columns within the cell. More recently, this ability has been extended to light atoms as resolution has improved. Sub-Ångstrom resolution has enabled researchers to image the columns of light atoms (carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen) that are present in many complex structures. By using sub-Ångstrom focal-series reconstruction of the specimen exit surface wave to image columns of cobalt, oxygen, and lithium atoms in a transition metal oxide structure commonly used as positive electrodes in lithium rechargeable batteries, we show that the range of detectable light atoms extends to lithium. HRTEM at sub-Ångstrom resolution will provide the essential role of experimental verification for the emergent nanotech revolution. Our results foreshadow those to be expected from next-generation TEMs with CS-corrected lenses and monochromated electron beams.

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