In-situ imaging of nanostructures in liquid electrolyte with SEM

Researchers at Fritz-Haber-Institute of the Max-Planck Society in collaboration with  Hummingbird Scientific have used the advanced bulk liquid electrochemistry specimen holder for scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and demonstrated the capability to image nanostructures in liquid electrolyte environment at high contrast and in high resolution down to tens of nanometers in real-time. The researchers evaluated the copper oxide nanocubes in different thickness of electrolyte layers in two different imaging modes  – backscattered (BSE) and transmitted (TE) electrons. Images obtained using BSE mode retain high spatial resolution but suffer from decreasing signal-to-noise ratios with increasing liquid thickness. Likewise, images acquired using TEs show better contrast with some sacrifice in the spatial resolution (Figure below). The new bulk liquid electrochemistry holder developed for the SEM that incorporates real reference electrode (Ag/AgCl) and real counter electrode (Pt) provides a powerful liquid cell SEM platform to measure and observe realistic electrochemistry with accurate quantitative information.  The article was published in the recent edition of Microscopy and Microanalysis.

Concurrent BSE and STEM imaging of copper oxide nanocubes as a function of liquid layer thickness from left to right. © The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Microscopy Society of America.

Reference: Aram Yoon, Antonia Herzog, Philipp Grosse, Daan Hein Alsem, See Wee Chee and Beatriz Roldán Cuenya. Dynamic Imaging of Nanostructures in an Electrolyte with a Scanning Electron Microscope. Microscopy and Microanalysis (2021).  Full paper

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