Review

Four-Dimensional Electron Microscopy

Science  09 Apr 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5975, pp. 187-193
DOI: 10.1126/science.1166135

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Abstract

The discovery of the electron over a century ago and the realization of its dual character have given birth to one of the two most powerful imaging instruments: the electron microscope. The electron microscope’s ability to resolve three-dimensional (3D) structures on the atomic scale is continuing to affect different fields, including materials science and biology. In this Review, we highlight recent developments and inventions made by introducing the fourth dimension of time in electron microscopy. Today, ultrafast electron microscopy (4D UEM) enables a resolution that is 10 orders of magnitude better than that of conventional microscopes, which are limited by the video-camera rate of recording. After presenting the central concept involved, that of single-electron stroboscopic imaging, we discuss prototypical applications, which include the visualization of complex structures when unfolding on different length and time scales. The developed UEM variant techniques are several, and here we illucidate convergent-beam and near-field imaging, as well as tomography and scanning-pulse microscopy. We conclude with current explorations in imaging of nanomaterials and biostructures and an outlook on possible future directions in space-time, 4D electron microscopy.

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