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Acta Crystallogr A. 2008 Jan;64(Pt 1):149-60. Epub 2007 Dec 21.

Electron crystallography: imaging and single-crystal diffraction from powders.

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Structural Chemistry, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden.


The study of crystals at atomic level by electrons - electron crystallography - is an important complement to X-ray crystallography. There are two main advantages of structure determinations by electron crystallography compared to X-ray diffraction: (i) crystals millions of times smaller than those needed for X-ray diffraction can be studied and (ii) the phases of the crystallographic structure factors, which are lost in X-ray diffraction, are present in transmission-electron-microscopy (TEM) images. In this paper, some recent developments of electron crystallography and its applications, mainly on inorganic crystals, are shown. Crystal structures can be solved to atomic resolution in two dimensions as well as in three dimensions from both TEM images and electron diffraction. Different techniques developed for electron crystallography, including three-dimensional reconstruction, the electron precession technique and ultrafast electron crystallography, are reviewed. Examples of electron-crystallography applications are given. There is in principle no limitation to the complexity of the structures that can be solved by electron crystallography.


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