Aperture contrast in thick amorphous specimens using scanning transmission electron microscopy

David Smith, J. M. Cowley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The contrast observed in thick amorphous specimens using a scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM) can be considerably improved by the use of an optimum collector aperture angle. The size of this angle can be calculated by considering the variation of electron current transmitted through the specimen as a function both of the specimen thickness and of the angle of collection subtended at the specimen. Typically these calculations predict optimum angles to be several times the half-width of the elastic scattering distribution, often 10-1 rad or more. Observations of biological sections of up to 2 μm in thickness using scanning attachments of commercial transmission microscopes have verified these results at beam voltages of 50, 100 and 200 kV. Wide angle convergent beam diffraction patterns were used to give accurate values of the effective angles represented by the various collector apertures. Once the linearity of the detector-amplifier system had been established, operation in a line modulation mode enabled quantitative measurements to be made of the image contrast. Such measurements also offer a quick effective method of comparing electron beam penetrations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-136
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1975

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Instrumentation


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