EM Sample Thickness Dependence of Spatial Resolution
- Practical Electron Microscopy and Database -
- An Online Book -


This book (Practical Electron Microscopy and Database) is a reference for TEM and SEM students, operators, engineers, technicians, managers, and researchers.


The sample thickness influences the spatial resolution of EM techniques. The degree of the dependence varies from technique to technique, for instance, this dependence is significant for the EDS method in EM, while the dependence is weak for AES method because AES is a surface analysis technique.

As we know that in TEM observation, the transmission of unscattered incident electrons is inversely proportional to the TEM specimen thickness. On the other hand, the increase of the specimen thickness enhances the energy loss of the transmitted electrons. Therefore, the spatial resolution degrades with the increase of specimen thickness because of the chromatic aberration effects. Table 3783 lists examples of the energy loss of incident electrons passing through the specimen. The use of thinner specimen can generally improve spatial resolution because it minimizes the energy loss.

Table 3783. Examples of the energy loss of electrons passing through the TEM specimen.

  Accelerating voltage of incident electrons Penetrated electrons (%) Penetrated electron with energy loss higher than 50 eV (%) Unscattered electrons (%) Elastically scattered electrons (%)
Thin metal foil
50 nm thick carbon film
50 kV

If the TEM specimen is very thick, both the chromatic and spherical aberrations affect the spatial resolution of EFTEM imaging significantly. For instance, for thick specimen the chromatic broadening (Δdc) is about 2.5 nm at β = 10 mrad, Cc = 1 mm, ΔE = 50 eV, and E0 = 200 keV, while for thin specimen, Δdc will be normally ≤ 0.2 nm for most microscope configurations (see details in page3384). For thick specimen, assuming the spherical aberration constant is 0.7 mm, collection semi-angle 15 mrad, the ΔdS will be ~3.8 nm, while for thin specimen ΔdS is normally negligible for most microscope configurations (see details in page1941).



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