Enhancement of low-spatial-frequency components by a new phase-contrast STEM using a probe formed with an amplitude Fresnel zone plate

Masato Tomita, Yukinori Nagatani, Kazuyoshi Murata, Atsushi Momose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Electron microscopy is a powerful tool for visualizing the shapes of sub-nanometer objects. However, Contrast Transfer Function (CTF) principally restricts lower frequency components in the image. To overcome this problem, phase-plate techniques have been proposed and currently Hole Free Phase Plate (HFPP) and Volta Phase Plate (VPP) are widely used especially for biological specimens to retrieve low frequency information of the sample's potential distributions. In this report, we have developed a new phase-contrast scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM) in which a probe beam including side robes is formed with an amplitude Fresnel zone plate (FZP) and the interference patterns produced by the zero and first order diffracted waves generated by the FZP are detected. We name it FZP Phase Contrast STEM (FZP-PC-STEM) hereinafter. The amplitude FZP was manufactured by using focused ion beam (FIB) equipment, and the diffraction data were collected by using diffraction imaging technique. The validity of our proposed optical model was confirmed by comparing experimental and simulated images. Observations of carbon nanotube (CNT) bundles by using this method showed that the contrast of low-spatial-frequency components in the CNT image was significantly enhanced. This method does not, in principle, require the post-image processing used in the diffraction imaging method, and it can be easily introduced into pre-existing equipment without major modifications. The stability and robustness of the FZP inserted in condenser system were also confirmed during long-time operation. We expect that the FZP-PC-STEM will be widely applicable to high-contrast observations of low-Z samples with simple and easy operation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113089
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Nov


  • Focused ion beam
  • Fresnel zone plate
  • Phase-contrast microscopy
  • STEM
  • Structured probe

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Instrumentation


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