Linear versus non-linear structural information limit in high-resolution transmission electron microscopy
Faculty of Sciences. Physics

article

2010
Amsterdam
, 2010

Physics

Ultramicroscopy. - Amsterdam

110(2010)
:11
, p. 1404-1410

0304-3991

000282562100008

E

English (eng)

University of Antwerp

A widely used performance criterion in high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM) is the information limit. It corresponds to the inverse of the maximum spatial object frequency that is linearly transmitted with sufficient intensity from the exit plane of the object to the image plane and is limited due to partial temporal coherence. In practice, the information limit is often measured from a diffractogram or from Young's fringes assuming a weak phase object scattering beyond the inverse of the information limit. However, for an aberration corrected electron microscope, with an information limit in the sub-angstrom range, weak phase objects are no longer applicable since they do not scatter sufficiently in this range. Therefore, one relies on more strongly scattering objects such as crystals of heavy atoms observed along a low index zone axis. In that case, dynamical scattering becomes important such that the non-linear and linear interaction may be equally important. The non-linear interaction may then set the experimental cut-off frequency observed in a diffractogram. The goal of this paper is to quantify both the linear and the non-linear information transfer in terms of closed form analytical expressions. Whereas the cut-off frequency set by the linear transfer can be directly related with the attainable resolution, information from the non-linear transfer can only be extracted using quantitative, model-based methods. In contrast to the historic definition of the information limit depending on microscope parameters only, the expressions derived in this paper explicitly incorporate their dependence on the structure parameters as well. In order to emphasize this dependence and to distinguish from the usual information limit, the expressions derived for the inverse cut-off frequencies will be referred to as the linear and non-linear structural information limit. The present findings confirm the well-known result that partial temporal coherence has different effects on the transfer of the linear and non-linear terms, such that the non-linear imaging contributions are damped less than the linear imaging contributions at high spatial frequencies. This will be important when coherent aberrations such as spherical aberration and defocus are reduced.

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