An ultrahigh-resolution soft x-ray microscope for quantitative analysis of chemically heterogeneous nanomaterials

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Science Advances  16 Dec 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 51, eabc4904
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abc4904


The analysis of chemical states and morphology in nanomaterials is central to many areas of science. We address this need with an ultrahigh-resolution scanning transmission soft x-ray microscope. Our instrument provides multiple analysis tools in a compact assembly and can achieve few-nanometer spatial resolution and high chemical sensitivity via x-ray ptychography and conventional scanning microscopy. A novel scanning mechanism, coupled to advanced x-ray detectors, a high-brightness x-ray source, and high-performance computing for analysis provide a revolutionary step forward in terms of imaging speed and resolution. We present x-ray microscopy with 8-nm full-period spatial resolution and use this capability in conjunction with operando sample environments and cryogenic imaging, which are now routinely available. Our multimodal approach will find wide use across many fields of science and facilitate correlative analysis of materials with other types of probes.

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