School of Physics Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics

Atomic Resolution Imaging

This research group is world renowned for the development of highly sophisticated theoretical models for the interaction of sub nanometer, focused coherent electron probes with condensed matter. Our research focuses on theoretical aspects of the characterization of the structure of condensed matter down to the atomic level. This work allows the full potential of a revolutionary new generation of high resolution electron microscopes to be achieved. Given that these machines have only recently become available, this work is destined to become even more important and influential as more institutions acquire these essential tools for the study of materials at the level of single atoms. Properties of materials and devices as diverse as transistors, turbine blades and interfacial superconductors can be explored. All of these systems are made up of dissimilar materials that, where they join at the atomic scale, display very different behaviour from what might be expected of the bulk materials.

Our major research programs are:

A full list of the groups publications can be found here.

Recent Research Highlights

Counting gold atoms

Nano Letters 10, 4405-4408 (2010)

We demonstrate that high-angle annular dark-field imaging in scanning transmission electron microscopy allows for quantification of the number and location of all atoms in a three-dimensional, crystalline, arbitrarily shaped specimen without the need for a calibration standard. It is now possible to literally count the atoms in a specimen.

New directions for chemical maps

Nature Nanotechnology 3, 255-256 (2008)

A new generation of scanning transmission electron microscopes will allow researchers to study the composition and bonding of all the atoms in a solid material. The first chemical mapping in two dimensions was recently demonstrated by the TCMP group and collaborators with an instrument corrected to third order in spherical aberration, and by Koji Kimoto and co-workers at NIMS and HREM Research in Japan (Kimoto, K. et al. Nature 450, 702–704 (2007).

The simultaneous measurement of structural and chemical information at the atomic scale provides fundamental insights into the connection between form and function, and with its Ångström-sized probe, a STEM is ideal for imaging nanostructures.

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