Studies of x-ray localization and thickness dependence in atomic-scale elemental mapping by STEM energy-dispersive x-ray spectroscopy using single-frame scanning method

Ping Lu, Jaime M. Moya, Renliang Yuan, Jian Min Zuo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The delocalization of x-ray signals limits the spatial resolution in atomic-scale elemental mapping by scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) using energy-dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDS). In this study, using a SrTiO 3 [001] single crystal, we show that the x-ray localization to atomic columns is strongly dependent on crystal thickness, and a thin crystal is critical for improving the spatial resolution in atomic-scale EDS mapping. A single-frame scanning technique is used in this study instead of the multiple-frame technique to avoid peak broadening due to tracking error. The strong thickness dependence is realized by measuring the full width at half maxima (FWHM) as well as the peak-to-valley (P/V) ratio of the EDS profiles for Ti K and Sr K + L, obtained at several crystal thicknesses. A FWHM of about 0.16 nm and a P/V ratio of greater than 7.0 are obtained for Ti K for a crystal thickness of less than 20 nm. With increasing crystal thickness, the FWHM and P/V ratio increases and decreases, respectively, indicating the advantage of using a thin crystal for high-resolution EDS mapping.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-29
Number of pages7
StatePublished - Mar 2018



  • Atomic-scale EDS
  • STEM
  • Single-frame scanning method
  • Thickness dependence
  • X-ray localization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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