We explore the dynamics of image formation in the so-called annular bright field mode in scanning transmission electron microscopy, whereby an annular detector is used with detector collection range lying within the cone of illumination, i.e. the bright field region. We show that this imaging mode allows us to reliably image both light and heavy columns over a range of thickness and defocus values, and we explain the contrast mechanisms involved. The role of probe and detector aperture sizes is considered, as is the sensitivity of the method to intercolumn spacing and local disorder.
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