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Keywords:

  • Chromatic aberration;
  • in situ;
  • liquid;
  • nanoparticles;
  • spatial resolution;
  • STEM;
  • TEM

Summary

The imaging of microscopic structures at nanometre-scale spatial resolution in a liquid environment is of interest for a wide range of studies. Recently, a liquid flow transmission electron microscopy (TEM) holder equipped with a microfluidic cell has been developed and shown to exhibit flow of nanoparticles through an electron transparent viewing window. Here we demonstrate the application of the flow cell system for both scanning and conventional transmission electron microscopy imaging of immobilized nanoparticles with a resolution of a few nanometres in liquid water of micrometre thickness. The spatial resolution of conventional TEM bright field imaging is shown to be limited by chromatic aberration due to multiple inelastic scattering in the water, and we demonstrate that the liquid in the cell can be displaced by a gas phase that forms under intense electron irradiation. Our data suggest that under appropriate conditions, TEM imaging with a liquid flow cell is a promising method for understanding the in situ behaviour of nanoscale structures in a prescribed and dynamically changing chemical environment.