Optical and electronic properties of small assemblages of atoms called quantum dots depend upon their electronic structure – not just what’s on the surface, but also what’s inside. While scientists can calculate the electronic structure, they need to know where the atoms are positioned in order to do so accurately.
Getting this information, however, has proved to be a challenge for nanocrystals like quantum dots. Mapping out the positions of atoms requires clues provided by the diffraction pattern. But quantum dots are so small, the clues provided by diffraction alone are not enough.
By combining two sources of information – images and diffraction patterns taken with the same electron microscope – researchers at the U. of I. can achieve sub-angstrom resolution of structures that were not possible before.
“We show that for cadmium-sulfide nanocrystals, the improved image resolution allows a determination of their atomic structures,” said Jian-Min (Jim) Zuo, a professor of materials science and engineering at the U. of I., and corresponding author of a paper that describes the high-resolution imaging system in the February issue of Nature Physics.
Images from electron microscopy can resolve individual atoms in a nanocrystal, but the atoms soon suffer radiation damage, which limits the length of observations. Patterns from X-ray diffraction can be used to determine the structure of large crystals, but not for nanocrystals, which are too small and don’t diffract well.
To achieve sub-angstrom resolution, Zuo and colleagues developed a reiterative algorithm that processes and combines shape information from the low-resolution image and structure information from the high-resolution diffraction pattern. Both the image and the diffraction pattern are taken with the same transmission-electron microscope.
“The low-resolution image provides the starting point by supplying missing information in the central beam and supplying essential marks for aligning the diffraction pattern,” said Zuo, who also is a researcher at the university’s Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory. “Our phase-retrieval algorithm then reconstructs the image.”
To demonstrate the technique, the researchers took a new look at cadmium-sulfide quantum dots.
“We chose cadmium-sulfide quantum dots because of their size-dependent optical and electronic properties, and the importance of atomic structure on these properties,” Zuo said. “Cadmium-sulfide quantum dots have potential applications in solar energy conversion and in medical imaging.”
Using the reiterative algorithm, the smallest separation between the cadmium and sulfide atomic columns was measured at 0.84 angstroms, the researchers report.
“Since low-resolution images can be obtained from different sources, our technique is general and can be applied to non-periodic structures, such as interfaces and local defects,” Zuo said. “Our technique also provides a basis for imaging the three-dimensional structure of single nanoparticles.”
With Zuo, co-authors of the paper are former doctoral student and lead author Weijie Huang (now at Dow Chemical Co.), U. of I. professor of materials science and engineering Moonsub Shim, former postdoctoral research associate Bin Jiang (now at FEI Co.), and former doctoral student Kwan-Wook Kwon (now at LAM Research).
The U.S. Department of Energy, the American Chemical Society and the National Science Foundation funded the work.
James E. Kloeppel | University of Illinois
Further Improvement of Qubit Lifetime for Quantum Computers
09.12.2016 | Forschungszentrum Jülich
Electron highway inside crystal
09.12.2016 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine