Fast Atomic-Scale Chemical Imaging of Crystalline Materials and Dynamic Phase Transformations

Ping Lu, Ren Liang Yuan, Jon F. Ihlefeld, Erik David Spoerke, Wei Pan, Jian Min Zuo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Atomic-scale phenomena fundamentally influence materials form and function that makes the ability to locally probe and study these processes critical to advancing our understanding and development of materials. Atomic-scale chemical imaging by scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) using energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) is a powerful approach to investigate solid crystal structures. Inefficient X-ray emission and collection, however, require long acquisition times (typically hundreds of seconds), making the technique incompatible with electron-beam sensitive materials and study of dynamic material phenomena. Here we describe an atomic-scale STEM-EDS chemical imaging technique that decreases the acquisition time to as little as one second, a reduction of more than 100 times. We demonstrate this new approach using LaAlO3 single crystal and study dynamic phase transformation in beam-sensitive Li[Li0.2Ni0.2Mn0.6]O2 (LNMO) lithium ion battery cathode material. By capturing a series of time-lapsed chemical maps, we show for the first time clear atomic-scale evidence of preferred Ni-mobility in LNMO transformation, revealing new kinetic mechanisms. These examples highlight the potential of this approach toward temporal, atomic-scale mapping of crystal structure and chemistry for investigating dynamic material phenomena.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2728-2733
Number of pages6
JournalNano letters
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 13 2016


  • Time-resolved
  • atomic-scale
  • dynamic
  • lattice-vector translation
  • phase transformation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering


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