Fluctuation electron microscopy of amorphous and polycrystalline materials
Fluctuation Electron Microscopy (FEM) has become an effective materials' structure characterization technique, capable of probing medium-range order (MRO) that may be present in amorphous materials. Although its sensitivity to MRO has been exercised in numerous studies, FEM is not yet a quantitative technique. The holdup has been the discrepancy between the computed kinematical variance and the experimental variance, which previously was attributed to source incoherence. Although high-brightness, high coherence, electron guns are now routinely available in modern electron microscopes, they have not eliminated this discrepancy between theory and experiment. The main objective of this thesis was to explore, and to reveal, the reasons behind this conundrum.
The study was started with an analysis of the speckle statistics of tilted dark-field TEM images obtained from an amorphous carbon sample, which confirmed that the structural ordering is sensitively detected by FEM. This analysis also revealed the inconsistency between predictions of the source incoherence model and the experimentally observed variance.
FEM of amorphous carbon, amorphous silicon and ultra nanocrystalline diamond samples was carried out in an attempt to explore the conundrum. Electron probe and sample parameters were varied to observe the scattering intensity variance behavior. Results were compared to models of probe incoherence, diffuse scattering, atom displacement damage, energy loss events and multiple scattering. Models of displacement decoherence matched the experimental results best.
Decoherence was also explored by an interferometric diffraction method using bilayer amorphous samples, and results are consistent with strong displacement decoherence in addition to temporal decoherence arising from the electron source energy spread and energy loss events in thick samples.
It is clear that decoherence plays an important role in the long-standing discrepancy between experimental FEM and its theoretical predictions.