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Nanoscale Res Lett. 2013 Nov 13;8(1):475. doi: 10.1186/1556-276X-8-475.

Assessment of a nanocrystal 3-D morphology by the analysis of single HAADF-HRSTEM images.

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  • 1Brazilian Nanotechnology National Laboratory, Campinas, São Paulo 13083-970, Brazil.


This work presents the morphological characterization of CeO2 nanocrystals by the analysis of single unfiltered high-angle annular dark-field (HAADF)-high-resolution scanning transmission electron microscopy (HRSTEM) images. The thickness of each individual atomic column is estimated by the classification of its HAADF integrated intensity using a Gaussian mixture model. The resulting thickness maps obtained from two example nanocrystals with distinct morphology were analyzed with aid of the symmetry from the CeO2 crystallographic structure, providing an approximation for their 3-D morphology with high spatial resolution. A confidence level of ±1 atom per atomic column along the viewing direction on the thickness estimation is indicated by the use of multislice image simulation. The described characterization procedure stands out as a simple approach for retrieving morphological parameters of individual nanocrystals, such as volume and specific surface areas for different crystalline planes. The procedure is an alternative to the tilt-series tomography technique for a number of nanocrystalline systems, since its application does not require the acquisition of multiple images from the same nanocrystal along different zone axes.

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