Electrons for single molecule diffraction and imaging

Ke Ran, Jian Min Zuo, Qing Chen, Zujin Shi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We demonstrate the potential of electrons for single molecule diffraction and imaging using C 60 molecules confined inside single-walled carbon nanotubes (C 60s@SWCNT or peapod) as a model system. A 25nm diameter electron beam from a field emission gun source is used to record diffraction patterns from individual peapods using imaging plates. The electron beam illuminates about 25 C 60 molecules. Experimentally, we found that the molecules diffract inside ~15% of the host nanotubes. With the help of simulations, we explore the limits of electron molecular diffraction and its sensitivity to the molecular configurations. We show that the combination of electron diffraction and electron direct imaging provides the best approach to single molecule imaging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)72-77
Number of pages6
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • C s@SWCNT
  • Diffraction limit
  • Molecular electron diffraction
  • Molecular structure determination
  • Single molecule imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Instrumentation
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials


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