Solving complex nanostructures with ptychographic atomic electron tomography.

electron microscopy
journal article

Philipp M. Pelz, Sinéad M. Griffin, Scott Stonemeyer, Derek Popple, Hannah DeVyldere, Peter Ercius, Alex Zettl, Mary C. Scott & Colin Ophus


Citation (APA 7)

Pelz, P.M., Griffin, S.M., Stonemeyer, S. et al. Solving complex nanostructures with ptychographic atomic electron tomography. Nat Commun 14, 7906 (2023).


Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) is essential for determining atomic scale structures in structural biology and materials science. In structural biology, three-dimensional structures of proteins are routinely determined from thousands of identical particles using phase-contrast TEM. In materials science, three-dimensional atomic structures of complex nanomaterials have been determined using atomic electron tomography (AET). However, neither of these methods can determine the three-dimensional atomic structure of heterogeneous nanomaterials containing light elements. Here, we perform ptychographic electron tomography from 34.5 million diffraction patterns to reconstruct an atomic resolution tilt series of a double wall-carbon nanotube (DW-CNT) encapsulating a complex ZrTe sandwich structure. Class averaging the resulting tilt series images and subpixel localization of the atomic peaks reveals a Zr11Te50 structure containing a previously unobserved ZrTe2 phase in the core. The experimental realization of atomic resolution ptychographic electron tomography will allow for the structural determination of a wide range of beam-sensitive nanomaterials containing light elements.