Three-dimensional imaging of chemical phase transformations at the nanoscale with full-field transmission X-ray microscopy

J Synchrotron Radiat. 2011 Sep;18(Pt 5):773-81. doi: 10.1107/S0909049511019364. Epub 2011 Jul 8.


The ability to probe morphology and phase distribution in complex systems at multiple length scales unravels the interplay of nano- and micrometer-scale factors at the origin of macroscopic behavior. While different electron- and X-ray-based imaging techniques can be combined with spectroscopy at high resolutions, owing to experimental time limitations the resulting fields of view are too small to be representative of a composite sample. Here a new X-ray imaging set-up is proposed, combining full-field transmission X-ray microscopy (TXM) with X-ray absorption near-edge structure (XANES) spectroscopy to follow two-dimensional and three-dimensional morphological and chemical changes in large volumes at high resolution (tens of nanometers). TXM XANES imaging offers chemical speciation at the nanoscale in thick samples (>20 µm) with minimal preparation requirements. Further, its high throughput allows the analysis of large areas (up to millimeters) in minutes to a few hours. Proof of concept is provided using battery electrodes, although its versatility will lead to impact in a number of diverse research fields.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.