On the origin of transverse incoherence in Z-contrast STEM

J Electron Microsc (Tokyo). 2001;50(3):227-33. doi: 10.1093/jmicro/50.3.227.


We use a Bloch wave approach to further investigate the origins of the incoherent nature of Z-contrast imaging using an ADF detector in a STEM. We discuss how, although at high angles the collected electrons will be mostly thermally scattered in addition to the elastic scattering, it is not the thermal scattering that destroys the coherence, rather the combination of the large detector with the high-angle elastic scattering. This incoherent nature of the elastic scattering arises through the filtering of the 1s-type Bloch states by the detector geometry. We show that it is this filtering that renders an atomic column an independent scatterer insensitive to the configuration of neighbouring columns. It also makes the image contrast insensitive to the effects of beam spreading onto neighbouring columns as the probe propagates through the crystal. We also discuss the implications of this for previous calculations of the intensity of Z-contrast images.