Transmission electron microtomography in soft materials

Hiroshi Jinnai, Toshihiko Tsuchiya, Sohei Motoki, Takeshi Kaneko, Takeshi Higuchi, Atsushi Takahara

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


This review summarizes the recent advances in three-dimensional (3D) imaging techniques and their application to polymer nanostructures, for example, microphase-separated structures of block copolymers. We place particular emphasis on the method of transmission electron microtomography (electron tomography for short; hereafter abbreviated as ET). As a result of recent developments in ET, truly quantitative 3D images of polymer nanostructures can now be obtained with subnanometer resolution. The introduction of scanning optics in ET has made it possible to obtain large amounts of 3D data from micrometer-thick polymer specimens by using conventional electron microscopes at a relatively low accelerating voltage, 200 kV. Thus, ET covers structures over a wide range of thicknesses, from a few nanometers to several hundred nanometers, which corresponds to quite an important spatial range for hierarchical polymer nanostructures. ET provides clear 3D images and a wide range of new structural information that cannot be obtained using other methods. Information traditionally derived from conventional microscopy or scattering methods can be directly acquired from 3D volume data. ET is a versatile technique that is not restricted to only polymer applications; it can also be used as a powerful characterization tool in energy applications such as fuel cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-258
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Electron Microscopy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Apr


  • electron tomography
  • polymer
  • soft materials
  • three-dimensional reconstruction


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