Interpreting atomic-resolution spectroscopic images

M Oxley, M Varela, T Pennycook, K van Bentham, Scott Findlay, Adrian D'Alfonso, Leslie Allen, Stephen Pennycook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


Core-loss electron energy loss spectroscopy is a powerful experimental tool with the potential to provide atomic-resolution information about electronic structure at defects and interfaces in materials and nanostructures. Interpretation, however, is nonintuitive. Comparison of experimental and simulated compositional maps in LaMn O3 shows good agreement, apart from an overall scaling of image contrast, and shows that the shape and width of spectroscopic images do not show a simple variation with binding energy, as commonly assumed, or with the size of the orbital excited. For the low lying La N4,5 edge with threshold at around 99 eV, delocalization does not preclude atomic resolution, but reduces the image contrast. The image width remains comparable to that of the much higher lying O K edge with threshold at around 532 eV. Both edges show a volcanolike feature, a dip at the column position not previously seen experimentally. In the case of the O K edge, this represents an experimental verification of nonlocal inelastic scattering effects in electron energy loss spectroscopy imaging. In the case of the N4,5 edge, the volcanolike feature is due to dynamical channeling and absorption of the probe through the specimen thickness. Simulation is therefore critical to the interpretation of atomic-resolution elemental maps.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)064303-1 - 064303-8
Number of pages8
JournalPhysical Review B
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes

Cite this