Evaluating direct detection detectors for short-range order characterization of amorphous materials by electron scattering

Adham Basha, George Levi, Lothar Houben, Tamir Amrani, Ilan Goldfarb, Amit Kohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The introduction of direct electron detectors (DEDs) to transmission electron microscopy has set off the ‘resolution revolution’, especially for cryoTEM low-dose imaging of soft matter. In comparison to traditional indirect electron detectors such as Charged-Coupled Devices (CCD), DEDs show an improved modulation transfer function (MTF) and detective quantum efficiency (DQE) across all spatial frequencies, as well as faster frame rates which enable single electron counting. The benefits of such characteristics for imaging, spectroscopy and electron holography have been demonstrated previously. However, studies are lacking on the application of DEDs for localized characterization of short- to medium- range-order (SRO, MRO) in amorphous materials using electron scattering. Therefore, we evaluate the performance of a Monolithic Active Pixel Sensor DED for the characterization of SRO and MRO in nanoscale volumes of amorphous materials, using SiO2 and Ta2O5 thin films as test cases. The performance of the detector is compared systematically to electron scattering measurements recorded on an indirect detector (CCD) using 200 keV electrons and electron doses starting at approximately 500[Formula presented]. In addition, the effects of sample cooling and energy-filtering on the measured SRO of the oxides were investigated. We demonstrate that the performance of the DED resulted in improved SRO characterization in comparison to that obtained from the CCD measurements. The DED enabled to achieve a larger measured maximal scattering vector, ∼16.5[Formula presented] compared to ∼15[Formula presented], for the CCD. Furthermore, an improved signal-to-noise ratio of approximately two-fold was observed across all spatial frequencies for both 200 keV and 80 keV electrons. These improvements are shown to result from the superior DQE of the DED. Consequently, the DED measurements enabled to determine the coordination numbers of atomic bonds more accurately. We expect that further benefits of the DED for S/MRO characterization will be highlighted for ultra- sensitive materials that cannot withstand electron doses above several [Formula presented].

Original languageEnglish
Article number113737
StatePublished - Jul 2023


  • Amorphous materials
  • Detector evaluation
  • Direct electron detector
  • Electron scattering
  • Radial distribution function
  • Short-range order

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Instrumentation


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