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Electron and X-ray Microscopy

We achieve unprecedented understanding of materials properties at the nano to atomic scale with high spatial, energy, and temporal resolution.
Low-dose atomic-resolution image of organic molecules on a single-wall carbon nanotube.

Understanding the microscopic structure of materials is essential for determining their properties and for the creation of new, useful devices. For decades, electron and X-ray microscopies have been used to look inside matter. Electron microscopes can now resolve single atoms buried within structures, while X-ray microscopes can discern minute lattice distortions in materials. Center for Nanoscale Materials (CNM) researchers with deep expertise in these two areas work closely together to create the most powerful images of material structures and dynamics.

Combining our newly commissioned ultrafast capabilities with our existing unique capabilities of aberration-corrected atomic-resolution imaging and spectroscopy, X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, in-situ liquid/gas/heating/cooling, hundredths-of-picometer strain sensitivity in two and three dimensions, and artificial intelligence enabled image reconstructions, we contribute to CNM’s three scientific themes: Quantum Materials and Sensing, Manipulating Nanoscale Interactions, and Nanoscale Dynamics.

Nanoscale Dynamics is a particular area of focus for the Electron and X-ray Microscopy group moving forward. Our ultrafast electron microscope is open for users now and can provide sub-nm, sub-ps and sub-eV spatial, temporal, and energy resolutions to understand transient phenomena of materials. In the near future, the Advanced Photon Source (APS) at Argonne will undergo an upgrade that will create a groundbreaking per-bunch brightness relative to other hard X-ray sources, with ~100-ps time resolution and tens-of-nanometers spatial resolution. Plans are in place to upgrade the Hard X-ray Nanoprobe’s capabilities for time-resolved nanobeam Bragg ptychography to create a unique visualization tool for the dynamic manipulation of nanoscale strain in space and time.

Key capabilities:

  • Hard X-ray Nanoprobe, located at APS Sector 26
  • Ultrafast Electron Microscopy (UEM)
  • Spectra 200 STEM (available 2023)
  • Argonne chromatic aberration-corrected TEM (ACAT)
  • JEOL JEM-2100F Field-Emission-Gun Transmission Electron Microscope
  • FEI Quanta 400F ESEM
  • Hitachi S-4700-II SEM
  • Zeiss NVision FIB-SEM


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