Depth-resolution imaging of crystalline nanoclusters attached on and embedded in amorphous films using aberration-corrected TEM

Jun Yamasaki*, Masayuki Mori, Akihiko Hirata, Yoshihiko Hirotsu, Nobuo Tanaka

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


For observations of crystalline nanoclusters, the features and capabilities of depth-resolution imaging by aberration-corrected transmission electron microscopy (TEM) were investigated using image simulations and experiments for two types of samples. The first sample was gold clusters attached on an amorphous carbon film. The experimental through-focal series indicated that the focal plane for the cluster was shifted 3nm from that for the supporting film. This difference is due to the depth-resolution imaging of the cluster and film, the mid-planes of which are separated by 3nm along the depth direction (the electron incident direction). On the basis of this information, the three-dimensional configuration of the sample, such as the film thickness of 2nm, was successfully illustrated. The second sample was a Zr66.7Ni33.3 metallic glass including a medium-range-order (MRO) structure, which was approximately considered to be a crystalline cluster with a diameter of 1.6nm. In the experimental through-focal series, the lattice fringe of the MRO cluster was visible at limited focal conditions. Image simulations reproduced well the focal conditions and also indicated a structural condition for the visualization that the embedded cluster must be apart from the mid-plane of the matrix film. Similar to the case of the first sample, this result can be explained by the idea that the "effective focal planes" for the film and cluster are at different heights. This type of depth-resolution phase contrast imaging is possible only in aberration-corrected TEM and when the sample has a simple structure and is sufficiently thin for the kinematical scattering approximation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-231
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Apr 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Aberration-corrected TEM
  • Bulk metallic glass
  • Depth-resolution imaging
  • Gold clusters on a carbon film
  • Medium range order
  • ZrNi

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Instrumentation


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