Transmission Electron Microscopy

Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) and Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy (STEM) are the ideal techniques to use if you need sub-nm  imaging resolution.  In addition to imaging, it is possible to obtain crystallographic phase and orientation (using electron diffraction), generate elemental maps (by using EDS or EELS), and acquire images highlighting elemental contrast (Z-contrast or HAADF-STEM mode).

How TEM/STEM works — High energy electrons (80keV-300keV) are transmitted through electron transparent samples (~100nm thick) and measured. TEM and STEM have higher spatial resolution than SEM but require more complex and time consuming sample preparation methods.

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Instrumentation Available

Key Attributes

  • Signals Detected: Transmitted electrons, back-scattered electrons, secondary electrons, x-rays
  • Elements Detected: B-U (EDS)
  • Detection Limits: 0.1-1at% with EDS and EELS
  • Imaging/Mapping: Yes (EDS, EELS)
  • Ultimate Lateral Resolution: <0.2nm


  • The highest spatial resolution elemental mapping of any analytical technique
  • Sub 0.2nm image resolution
  • Small area crystallographic information
  • Strong contrast between crystalline vs amorphous materials without chemical staining


  • Time consuming sample preparation  (1-4hrs)
  • Small sampling volumes that may not be indicative of the sample bulk
  • Potential for electron beam damage of delicate materials


  • Metrology at 0.2nm resolution
  • Crystallographic phase measurement at the nanometer scale
  • Characterization of nanoparticles
  • Studies of catalyst materials
  • nm-sized defects identification
  • Elemental mapping at the nanoscale
  • III-V semiconductors super lattice characterization
  • Characterization of crystalline defects (dislocations, grain boundaries, voids, stacking faults)

Additional Reading