Probing electron beam effects with chemoresistive nanosensors during in situ environmental transmission electron microscopy

S. Steinhauer, Z. Wang, Z. Zhou, J. Krainer, A. Köck, K. Nordlund, F. Djurabekova, P. Grammatikopoulos, and M. Sowwan, 2017
Fusion TEM holder tip
Image courtesy of Applied Physics Letters


We report in situ and ex situ fabrication approaches to construct p-type (CuO) and n-type (SnO2) metal oxide nanowire devices for operation inside an environmental transmission electron microscope (TEM). By taking advantage of their chemoresistive properties, the nanowire devices were employed as sensitive probes for detecting reactive species induced by the interactions of high-energy electrons with surrounding gas molecules, in particular, for the case of O2 gas pressures up to 20 mbar. In order to rationalize our experimental findings, a computational model based on the particle-in-cell method was implemented to calculate the spatial distributions of scattered electrons and ionized oxygen species in the environmental TEM. Our approach enables the a priori identification and qualitative measurement of undesirable beam effects, paving the way for future developments related to their mitigation.

Impact Statement

Electrothermal chips were used to grow in situ nanowires and measure resistance change due to O absorption in an ETEM. Pre-patterned Cu was used to grown CuO nanowires, while SnO2 nanowires were used as-grown. This research has applications in nanosensors and can be utilized to liquid microscopy studies.