Differential phase-contrast microscopy at atomic resolution

Naoya Shibata, Scott D. Findlay, Yuji Kohno, Hidetaka Sawada, Yukihito Kondo, Yuichi Ikuhara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

234 Citations (Scopus)


Differential phase-contrast (DPC) imaging enhances the image contrast of weakly absorbing, low-atomic-number objects in optical and X-ray microscopy 1-4 . In transmission electron microscopy 5 , this same imaging mode can image magnetic fields in magnetic materials at medium resolution 6,7 . Atomic-resolution imaging of electromagnetic fields, however, is still a major challenge. Here, we demonstrate atomic-resolution DPC imaging of crystals using aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy. The image contrast reflects the gradient of the electrostatic potential of the atoms; that is, the atomic electric field, which is found to be sensitive to the crystal ionicity. Both the mesoscopic polarization fields within each domain and the atomic-scale electric fields induced by the individual electric dipoles within each unit cell can be sensitively detected in ferroelectric BaTiO 3 . The realization of atomic-resolution DPC microscopy opens a new dimension of microscopy from crystalline materials through to biological molecules.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)611-615
Number of pages5
JournalNature Physics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Aug
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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