National Research Council of Canada. National Institute for Nanotechnology
scanning transmission electron microscopy; contamination; electron-beam induced charging; phase plate; graphitized carbon; thin film
We analyze electron-beam induced carbon contamination in a transmission electron microscope. The study is performed on thin films potentially suitable as phase plates for phase-contrast transmission electron microscopy. Electron energy-loss spectroscopy and phase-plate imaging is utilized to analyze the contamination. The deposited contamination layer is identified as a graphitic carbon layer which is not prone to electrostatic charging whereas a non-conductive underlying substrate charges. Several methods that inhibit contamination are evaluated and the impact of carbon contamination on phase-plate imaging is discussed. The findings are in general interesting for scanning transmission electron microscopy applications.