- NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP
In scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM), single atoms can be imaged by detecting electrons scattered through high angles using post-specimen, annular-type detectors. Recently, it has been shown that the atomic-scale electric field of both the positive atomic nuclei and the surrounding negative electrons within crystalline materials can be probed by atomic-resolution differential phase contrast STEM. Here we demonstrate the real-space imaging of the (projected) atomic electric field distribution inside single Au atoms, using sub-angstrom spatial resolution STEM combined with a high-speed segmented detector. We directly visualize that the electric field distribution (blurred by the sub-angstrom size electron probe) drastically changes within the single Au atom in a shape that relates to the spatial variation of total charge density within the atom. Atomic-resolution electric field mapping with single-atom sensitivity enables us to examine their detailed internal and boundary structures.
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