4D Imaging of Transient Structures and Morphologies in Ultrafast Electron Microscopy

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Science  21 Nov 2008:
Vol. 322, Issue 5905, pp. 1227-1231
DOI: 10.1126/science.1164000

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With advances in spatial resolution reaching the atomic scale, two-dimensional (2D) and 3D imaging in electron microscopy has become an essential methodology in various fields of study. Here, we report 4D imaging, with in situ spatiotemporal resolutions, in ultrafast electron microscopy (UEM). The ability to capture selected-area-image dynamics with pixel resolution and to control the time separation between pulses for temporal cooling of the specimen made possible studies of fleeting structures and morphologies. We demonstrate the potential for applications with two examples, gold and graphite. For gold, after thermally induced stress, we determined the atomic structural expansion, the nonthermal lattice temperature, and the ultrafast transients of warping/bulging. In contrast, in graphite, striking coherent transients of the structure were observed in both image and diffraction, directly measuring, on the nanoscale, the longitudinal resonance period governed by Young's elastic modulus. The success of these studies demonstrates the promise of UEM in real-space imaging of dynamics.

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