Fluctuation transmission electron microscopy: Detecting nanoscale order in disordered structures

Bong Sub Lee, Stephen G. Bishop, John R. Abelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The structures of many disordered materials are not ideally random, but contain structural order on the scale of 1-3 nm. However, such nanoscale order, called medium-range order, cannot be detected by conventional diffraction methods in most cases. Fluctuation transmission electron microscopy (FTEM) has the capability to detect medium-range order in disordered materials based on statistical analysis of nanodiffraction patterns or dark-field images from TEM. FTEM has been successful in demonstrating the theoretically predicted development of nanoscale nuclei in amorphous chalcogenides, as well as in revealing the subtle effect of different preparation routes on the medium-range order in amorphous semiconductors and metals. The fluctuation principle can also be applied to study structural order on longer length scales in polymers and other disordered materials using X-rays or visible light. Further advances in theory and practice of FTEM will greatly increase our understanding of amorphous structures and nucleation phenomena.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2311-2317
Number of pages7
Issue number11
StatePublished - Aug 2 2010


  • Electron microscopy
  • Glasses
  • Nanostructures
  • Phase transitions
  • Semiconductors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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