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Nat Mater. 2011 Mar;10(3):209-15. doi: 10.1038/nmat2941. Epub 2011 Jan 16.

Experimental analysis of charge redistribution due to chemical bonding by high-resolution transmission electron microscopy.

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Central Facility for Electron Microscopy, Group of Electron Microscopy of Materials Science, University of Ulm, 89081 Ulm, Germany.


The electronic charge density distribution or the electrostatic atomic potential of a solid or molecule contains information not only on the atomic structure, but also on the electronic properties, such as the nature of the chemical bonds or the degree of ionization of atoms. However, the redistribution of charge due to chemical bonding is small compared with the total charge density, and therefore difficult to measure. Here, we demonstrate an experimental analysis of charge redistribution due to chemical bonding by means of high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM). We analyse charge transfer on the single-atom level for nitrogen-substitution point defects in graphene, and confirm the ionicity of single-layer hexagonal boron nitride. Our combination of HRTEM experiments and first-principles electronic structure calculations opens a new way to investigate electronic configurations of point defects, other non-periodic arrangements or nanoscale objects that cannot be studied by an electron or X-ray diffraction analysis.


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