What is Electron Microscopy and its Importance in Materials Science an Engineering?

Electron microscopy is a pivotal tool in materials science, offering unparalleled insights into the structure, composition, and behavior of materials at the nanoscale. Unlike traditional optical microscopes limited by the wavelength of light, electron microscopes utilize a beam of electrons to achieve much higher resolution, enabling researchers to visualize features as small as individual atoms. This capability allows for detailed examination of material surfaces, interfaces, and internal structures, facilitating the study of various phenomena such as crystal defects, grain boundaries, and phase transformations. Electron microscopy plays a crucial role in advancing materials science by informing the design, optimization, and characterization of novel materials for a wide range of applications, including electronics, catalysis, biomaterials, and energy storage

Our Research Direction in Electron Microscopy

Our team routinely uses cutting edge electron microscopy tools at ASU‘s John M. Cowley Center for High Resolution Electron Microscopy Center to investigate crystalline structures, point defects, and grain boundary defects in next-generation atomically thin semiconductors, quantum materials, as well as vdW bulk crystals. These microscopy studies are aimed at establishing the structure-process-performance relations for these exciting materials systems so that our team can establish sustainable growth methods to create functional materials (electronics, optical communication, and sustainability). While doing so, our team explores new phases of matter created by the presence of defects, investigates the role played by atomic scale imperfections on structural and optical properties of 2D and vdW materials. Our team uses there techniques in our other projects such as CHIPS act next-gen semiconductor manufacturing to establish the crystalline quality of as-grown materials, Arizona Water Initiative to correlate growth conditions to material quality for carbon valorization and clean water applications, development of new 2D and quantum materials to easily access advance materials properties.

Fundamental Research Questions

  • How does the presence of 0D point defects and 1D line (grain boundary) defects impact the material behavior of 2D and vdW materials?
  • What is the crystallographic properties of 2D and vdW materials from clean (no defect) to dirty (heavily defected) limit?
  • What new phases of matter emerge when select type and concentration of defects are present in 2D and vdW materials?
  • What is the excitonic properties of 2D semiconductors at length scales smaller than 10 nm using STEM EELS?