Clearest crystalline form revealed

To capture extraordinary nanoscale details in crystallography takes the powerful coherent flux of a 4th generation light source. Recent work in Light: Science & Applications by an international research team has revealed 3D images of a complex crystalline star structure using Bragg ptychography and new advanced analysis tools at MAX IV’s NanoMAX beamline. The results demonstrate the possibility of unprecedented data quality beyond experimental limitations from new synchrotron sources.

It is the high brilliance of 4th generation synchrotrons which now makes high resolution 3D Bragg ptychography especially valuable for investigation of crystal samples, from biominerals found in teeth, bones, shells and more, to a diversity of technologically relevant materials exhibiting magnetic, ferro-electric, topological properties to cite a few.

“New microscopy tools can provide not only sharper images but allow completely new ways of studying extremely complex materials, improving our understanding of the world around,” said Dina Carbone, MAX IV Scientist and study author. “This is the first step to produce technologies that truly responds to our needs in an efficient and sustainable way.”

The current study succeeded in producing a 3D image of the silicon crystalline sample with internal atomic deformations. The star is a well-known structure, chosen to assess the capabilities of the new diffraction end-station of NanoMAX previously designed by Carbone. The research team involved pioneered the 3D Bragg ptychography technique in 2011, and continues with its development.

Read more on the MAX IV website

Image: (left) 3D volume rendering (iso-surface) of crystalline Si-star with Bragg-ptychography, (center), atomic displacement along the z direction. The color map shows strain (dimensionless) (right) SEM image of the same Si-star sample, for comparison. 

Credit: Dina Carbone