Imaging Beam-Sensitive Materials by Electron Microscopy

Qiaoli Chen, Christian Dwyer, Guan Sheng, Chongzhi Zhu, Xiaonian Li, Changlin Zheng, Yihan Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


Electron microscopy allows the extraction of multidimensional spatiotemporally correlated structural information of diverse materials down to atomic resolution, which is essential for figuring out their structure–property relationships. Unfortunately, the high-energy electrons that carry this important information can cause damage by modulating the structures of the materials. This has become a significant problem concerning the recent boost in materials science applications of a wide range of beam-sensitive materials, including metal–organic frameworks, covalent–organic frameworks, organic–inorganic hybrid materials, 2D materials, and zeolites. To this end, developing electron microscopy techniques that minimize the electron beam damage for the extraction of intrinsic structural information turns out to be a compelling but challenging need. This article provides a comprehensive review on the revolutionary strategies toward the electron microscopic imaging of beam-sensitive materials and associated materials science discoveries, based on the principles of electron–matter interaction and mechanisms of electron beam damage. Finally, perspectives and future trends in this field are put forward.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1907619
JournalAdvanced Materials
Issue number16
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020


  • 2D materials
  • MOFs
  • beam-sensitive materials
  • electron microscopy
  • low dose

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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