Karlsruhe Nano Micro Facility (KNMF)

Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM)

KNMF Laboratory for Microscopy and Spectroscopy

Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) enables characterization of powders and thin films (which can be prepared in a target preparation from bulk materials) by direct imaging with up to atomic resolution. The image information can be locally correlated with spectroscopic techniques (EELS/EFTEM and EDX) to provide semi-quantitative elemental composition/maps with sub-nanometer resolution. All of these techniques can also be performed in-situ, e.g. during heating, electrical biasing or straining to directly correlate structural changes and materials properties. For complex three-dimensional structures, electron tomography can be used to generate a 3D representation of the material with a spatial resolution of 1–2 nm.

Download technology description (PDF)

Details (TEM)


  • FEI Titan 80–300 (aberration corrected TEM)
  • Resolution:
    - 0.08 nm information limit TEM
    - 0.14 nm resolution in STEM
    - 0.7 eV energy resolution EELS
  • Imaging and Analysis Techniques:
    - BF-TEM, aberration corrected HRTEM
    - (S)TEM tomography
    - electron diffraction, electron precession
    - orientation mapping
    - Lorentz imaging
    - low-dose techniques & cryo imaging
  • In-situ Techniques:
    - Heating (Protochips Aduro: RT-1200 ºC; Gatan 652: RT-800 ºC)
    - Cooling (Gatan 915: LN2-80 ºC)
    - Straining (Hysitron Picoindenter PI 95 and Gatan 654)
    - Electrical Biasing (Protochips Aduro)
    - Electro chemistry (Protochips Poseidon 500)
  • Sample preparation:
    - Thin films or nano powders can be directly analyzed without additional preparation
    - Target preparation by FIB lift-out (for details see FIB description) with final polishing by low-voltage Argon ion beam (Fischione 1040 NanoMill)
    - Electro polishing
    - Classical preparation by cutting, grinding, argon ion milling or microtomy


  • Sample has to be a solid at LN2 temperatures and stable under high vacuum conditions
  • Maximum sample thickness: 10–2000 nm (depending on resolution and technique)
  • Depending on the structure and chemical composition, the sample might be sensitive to the electron beam resulting in changes during analysis
  • Except in tomography, TEM always provides an image/analysis of the projected structure of a sample
  • H, He und Li cannot be detected by our analytical techniques

Typical results

Figure 1

Fig. 1: HAADF-STEM image (filtered by NAD) of a La1-xSrxMnO3/SrTiO3 interface with the individual atomic columns well resolved across the interface. Overlaid is an EELS/EDX intensity profile across this interface. P.M. Leufke and D. Wang et al., Thin solid films, 2012, 520, 5521-5527.


Figure 2

Fig. 2: Atomic resolution TEM image of a triple and a quadruple line at the interface between Σ3 boundaries and a Σ9 boundary in nanocrystalline palladium. H. Rösner and C. Kübel et al., Acta Mat., 2011, 59, 7380-7387.


Figure 3

Fig. 3: Geometric phase analysis reveals the local strain distribution around the triple line in the image above. H. Rösner and C. Kübel et al., Acta Mat., 2011, 59, 7380-7387.


Figure 4

Fig. 4: In-situ orientation mapping (different color correspond to different crystal orientations) of the grain structure changes in nanocrystalline gold during straining – selected images of the straining series showing anomalous grain growth. A. Kobler and C. Kübel et al., Ultramicroscopy, 2013, 128, 68-81.


Figure 5

Fig. 5: EFTEM mapping (Si-blue, C-red) and HRTEM image of nanocrystalline silicon particles with a covalently bound C18 shell. The EFTEM maps reveal the ~1.2 nm wide carbon shell around the silicon core. Sample provided by G. Ozin, University of Toronto.


Figure 6

Fig. 6: HAADF-STEM image with EDX compositional mapping of the different layers in a silicon quantum dot based organic LED (SiLED). F. Maier-Flaig and C. Kübel et al., Nano Letters, 2013, online; DOI: 10.1021/nl400975u.


Figure 7

Fig. 7: HRTEM image of nano graphene with the corresponding low-loss EELS spectrum showing the characteristic π and π+σ plasmon losses. J. Biener and D. Wang et al., Adv. Mater. 2012, 24, 5083–5087.


Figure 8

Fig. 8: HRTEM image of a Fe/LiF/C anode for lithium ion batteries revealing α-iron nanoparticles each surrounded by a few graphene layers. R. Prakash and C. Kübel et al., J. Power Sources, 2011, 196, 5936-5944.


Figure 9

Fig. 9: Electron tomographic reconstruction of a self-assembled CdS nano cluster superlattice (with additional 5 nm gold particles in yellow). The two digital slices, one unit cell apart, show a single vacancy, an extended vacancy and dislocations in 3D. T. Levchenko and C. Kübel et al., Chem. Eur. J., 2011, 17, 14394-14398.


Figure 10

Fig. 10: HAADF-STEM and HRTEM imaging of uniform ThO2 nanorods. D. Hudry and E. Courtois et al., Chem. Eur. J, 2013, 19(17), 5297–5305.