A new method to detect and correct sample tilt in scanning transmission electron microscopy bright-field imaging

H. G. Brown, Ryo Ishikawa, Gabriel Sánchez-Santolino, Nathan R Lugg, Yuichi Ikuhara, L. J. Allen, Naoya Shibata

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22 Citations (Scopus)


Important properties of functional materials, such as ferroelectric shifts and octahedral distortions, are associated with displacements of the positions of lighter atoms in the unit cell. Annular bright-field scanning transmission electron microscopy is a good experimental method for investigating such phenomena due to its ability to image light and heavy atoms simultaneously. To map atomic positions at the required accuracy precise angular alignment of the sample with the microscope optical axis is necessary, since misalignment (tilt) of the specimen contributes to errors in position measurements of lighter elements in annular bright-field imaging. In this paper it is shown that it is possible to detect tilt with the aid of images recorded using a central bright-field detector placed within the inner radius of the annular bright-field detector. For a probe focus near the middle of the specimen the central bright-field image becomes especially sensitive to tilt and we demonstrate experimentally that misalignment can be detected with a precision of less than a milliradian, as we also confirm in simulation. Coma in the probe, an aberration that can be misidentified as tilt of the specimen, is also investigated and it is shown how the effects of coma and tilt can be differentiated. The effects of tilt may be offset to a large extent by shifting the diffraction plane detector an amount equivalent to the specimen tilt and we provide an experimental proof of principle of this using a segmented detector system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-83
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Annular bright-field (ABF) imaging
  • Central bright-field (CBF) imaging
  • Sample tilt
  • Scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM)

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