The ultra-high-resolution platform for all materials science applications

For scientists to advance their understanding of complex samples and develop innovative materials, they must have access to robust, precise instrumentation capable of correlating form and function, as well as resolving space, time and frequency.

Thermo Fisher Scientific introduces the Spectra 300 S/TEM – the highest resolution, aberration corrected, scanning transmission electron microscope for all materials science applications.

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The Spectra Scanning Transmission Electron Microscope. Spectra 300 S/TEM: A redesigned base and enclosure deliver the highest imaging quality though passive and (optional) active vibration isolation.

Built on an ultra-stable foundation

All Thermo Scientific™ Spectra 300 S/TEMs are delivered on new platforms designed to offer an unprecedented level of mechanical stability and highest imaging quality though passive and (optional) active vibration isolation.

The system is housed in a fully redesigned enclosure with a built-in on-screen display for convenient specimen loading and removal. For the first time, full modularity and upgradeability can be offered between uncorrected and single-corrected configurations with variable heights, allowing maximum flexibility for different room configurations.

Spectra 300 S/TEM: A redesigned base and enclosure deliver the highest imaging quality though passive and (optional) active vibration isolation.

The Spectra 300 S/TEM can be optionally equipped with either a high-energy-resolution extreme field emission gun (X-FEG)/Mono or an ultra-high-energy resolution X-FEG/UltiMono. The monochromators of both sources are automatically excited and tuned with single-click operation to achieve the highest energy resolution possible on each configuration by using OptiMono or OptiMono+ respectively (see video below).

The X-FEG/Mono can be automatically tuned from 1 eV down to 0.2 eV, while the X-FEG/UltiMono can be automatically tuned from 1 eV down to <30 meV.

Both sources can be operated from 30 – 300 kV to accommodate the widest range of specimens. Both can also be run in standard mode, with the monochromators switched off, to accommodate experiments that require high brightness, including STEM EDX mapping, ultra-high-resolution STEM, or high total current, such as TEM imaging, all with no compromise to the other specifications of the system. This flexibility gives the Spectra 300 S/TEM the capability to function in settings where a large range of experiments are expected to be performed on one system.

OptiMono+ exciting an X-FEG/UltiMono from the monochromator off state (with 1 eV energy resolution) to the monochromator fully excited state (<30 meV) at 60 kV.  

The Spectra 300 S/TEM can optionally be powered by a new cold field emission gun (X-CFEG). The X-CFEG has extremely high brightness (>>1.0 x 108 A/m2/Sr/V*), low energy spread (<0.4 eV), and can operate from 30 – 300 kV. This provides simultaneously high-resolution STEM imaging with high probe currents for high throughput, fast acquisition STEM analytics in parallel with high-energy resolution. With the powerful combination of X-CFEG and the S-CORR probe aberration corrector, sub Angstrom (<0.8 Å) STEM-imaging resolution with over 1000 pA of probe current can be routinely achieved.

High-angle annular dark-field (HAADF) images of silicon.
Si[110] HAADF images taken with the X-CFEG/S-CORR combination; probe currents range from 0.016 nA (left) up to 1 nA (right) while maintaining <76 pm STEM resolution.

Further, probe currents can be flexibly tuned from <1 pA up to the nA range with fine control of the gun and condenser optics, all with minimum impact on the probe aberrations, so that the widest range of specimens and experiments can be accommodated.

As with all cold field emission sources, the sharp tip requires a periodic regeneration (called flashing) to maintain the probe current. With the X-CFEG, the tip only requires flashing once per working day, a process takes less than a minute. There is no measurable impact on the probe aberrations even in the highest resolution imaging conditions, and the daily tip flashing process has no impact on the tip lifetime.

Tip flashing on the X-CFEG: 60 pm resolution at 200 kV is maintained before and after tip flashing without adjustment of the optics. The process takes <1 min, is required only once per working day, and has no impact on the lifetime of the tip.

This new generation X-CFEG also produces enough total beam current (>14 nA) to support standard TEM imaging experiments (e.g. in situ) with large parallel probes, making it a uniquely all-purpose, yet high performance, C-FEG.

The combination of enhanced mechanical stability, the latest 5th-order probe aberration correction and the high-resolution (S-TWIN) wide-gap pole piece results in an instrument with the highest commercially-available STEM resolution specifications.

The Spectra 300 S/TEM, with X-FEG/Mono or X-FEG/UltiMono, offers STEM resolution specifications of 50 pm at 300 kV, 96 pm at 60 kV and 125 pm at 30 kV with 30 pA of probe current or 100 pA with the X-CFEG.

High-angle annular dark-field (HAADF) images of GaN[212]. Ultra-high resolution HAADF STEM imaging on a Spectra 300 S/TEM. GaN[212] imaged at 300 kV with 40.5 pm Ga-Ga dumbells resolved as well as 39 pm resolution in the FFT. The image was collected on a wide gap S-TWIN pole piece with 30 pA of probe current.

For a full list of specifications, please refer to the Spectra 300 S/TEM datasheet.

STEM imaging on the Spectra 300 S/TEM has been reimagined with the Panther STEM detection system, which includes a new data acquisition architecture and two new, solid state, eight-segment ring and disk STEM detectors (16 segments in total). The new detector geometry offers access to advanced STEM imaging capability combined with the sensitivity to measure single electrons.

Schematic representation of STEM detectors.
The 16 segmented ring and disk detectors of the Panther STEM detection system allow for a range of STEM signals without the need for multiple detectors.

The entire signal chain is optimized and tuned to provide unprecedented signal-to-noise imaging capability with extremely low doses to facilitate imaging of beam sensitive materials. Additionally, the completely redeveloped data acquisition infrastructure can combine different individual detector segments, with the future possibility of combining detector segments in arbitrary ways, generating new STEM imaging methods and revealing information that is not present in conventional STEM techniques. The architecture is also scalable and provides an interface to synchronize multiple STEM and spectroscopic signals.

High-angle annular dark-field (HAADF) images of SrTiO3.

Comparison SrTiO3 [001] HAADF images taken with the Panther STEM detection system with 3 pA, 1.3 pA and <1 pA of probe current. Even with probe currents <1 pA, the signal-to-noise ratio in the image allows automation routines like OptiSTEM+ to correct 1st and 2nd order aberrations in the probe forming optics, delivering sharp images.

Scanning transmission electron microscopy image of a metal organic framework. Extreme low-dose imaging of the metal organic framework (MOF) UiO 66 on the Spectra 300 S/TEM. A probe current of <0.5 pA was used in combination with iDPC and the Panther STEM detection system to image atomic level details in this highly dose-sensitive material with a spatial resolution of 1.4 Å. The image is a single shot with a frame time of 23.5 seconds (Specimen courtesy of Professor Y. Han, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology).

The Spectra 300 S/TEM can be configured with an electron microscope pixel array detector (EMPAD) or a Thermo Scientific Ceta™ Camera with speed enhancement to collect 4D STEM data sets.

The EMPAD is capable of 30-300 kV and provides a high dynamic range (1:1,000,000 e- between pixels), high signal-to-noise ratio (1/140 e-), and high speed (1100 frames per second) on a 128 x 128 pixel array, which makes it the optimal detector for 4D STEM applications. (E.g. Applications where the details of the central and diffracted beams need to be analyzed simultaneously, as in the following ptychography image.)

More details can be found in the EMPAD datasheet.

Electron microscope pixel array detector (EMPAD) image of MoS2.

The EMPAD detector can be used for a wide variety of applications. On the left, it is used to extend spatial resolution (0.39 Å) beyond the aperture limited resolution at low accelerating voltages (80 kV) in a bi-layer of the 2D material MoS2 (Jiang, Y. et al. Nature 559, 343–349, 2018) . On the right, it is used to independently image dark field reflections, revealing the complex microstructure of the precipitates in a superalloy (Sample courtesy Professor G. Bourke, University of Manchester).

The Ceta Camera with speed enhancement offers an alternative for 4D STEM applications where a greater number of pixels is required and when EDX analysis needs to be combined with each point in the STEM scan. This solution provides higher resolution diffraction patterns (up to 512 x 512 pixel resolution), suited for applications such as strain measurement.

From high-throughput, high signal-to-noise ratio elemental mapping in EDS and EELS to oxidation state and surface phonon probing with ultrahigh-resolution EELS, the Spectra 300 S/TEM offers the spectroscopic flexibility to accommodate the widest range of analytical requirements.

The Spectra 300 S/TEM can be configured with your choice of three different sources with varying energy resolution (X-FEG Mono, X-FEG UltiMono, and X-CFEG), two different EDX detector geometries (Super-X and Dual-X), and a range of Gatan Continuum spectrometers and energy filters, providing you with the freedom to configure the systems to suit your research needs.

The Thermo Scientific EDX detector portfolio provides a choice of detector geometries to suit your experimental requirements and optimize EDX results. Both configurations have a symmetric design, producing quantifiable data.  Note that holder shadowing as a function of tilt is compensated in both detector configurations via built-in Thermo Scientific Velox™ Software functionality.

The Spectra 300 S/TEM can be configured with either Super-X (for spectrum cleanliness and quantification) or Dual-X (for the largest solid angle and high-throughput STEM EDX mapping).

The Super-X detector system provides a highly collimated solid angle of 0.7 Sr and a Fiori number greater than 4000. Super-X is designed for STEM EDX experiments, where spectral cleanliness and quantification are critical.

The Dual-X detector system provides a solid angle of 1.76 Sr and a Fiori number greater than 2000. Dual-X is designed for high-throughput STEM EDX experiments, such as EDS tomography, or when signal yield is low and fast mapping is critical.

A DyScO3 perovskite system is examined with the Dual-X detectors below. The ultra-high brightness (>>1.0 x 108 A/m2/Sr/V*) of the X-CFEG and the resolving power of the S-CORR probe corrector are used to deliver a probe to the specimen with 150 pA of current and size <80 pm. With these high brightness probe conditions, EDX mapping can be done rapidly with high sampling and high SNR, resulting in, for the first time, sub-Å spatial information in a single elemental, raw, and unfiltered EDX map. A fast Fourier transform of the Sc map shows up to 90 pm resolution. Additionally, the built-in EDX quantification engine in the Velox Software makes STEM EDX on Spectra 300 S/TEM fast, easy and quantifiable.

DyScO3 image obtained using the Dual-X detectors on a scanning transmission electron microscope.

DyScO3 specimen investigated with the powerful combination of ultra-high brightness X-CFEG, S-CORR and the large solid angle (1.76 Sr) of the Dual-X detectors, resulting in high signal-to-noise ratio, atomic resolution (up to 90 pm), unfiltered EDX maps (Sample courtesy Professor L.F. Kourkoutis, Cornell University). 

When the Spectra 300 S/TEM is equipped with an X-FEG Mono it is optimized for high-throughput EELS elemental mapping and for probing the fine structure of core-loss edges, extracting sensitive chemical information. The energy resolution of an X-FEG Mono can be tuned between <0.2 eV and 1 eV.  resolution.

Plasmon position along a gold nanowire imaged on a scanning transmission electron microscope.

Localized positions of plasmon excitations along a gold nanowire as a function of their excitation energy (between 0.18 – 1.2 eV), investigated with an electron probe of <0.2 eV energy resolution.

A Spectra 300 configured with an X-FEG UltiMono provides the highest possible energy resolution. This configuration is capable of tuning the energy resolution between <0.025 eV and 1 eV.

Electron probe image of a magnesium oxide crystal obtained on a scanning transmission electron microscope.
Electron probe image of a magnesium oxide crystal obtained on a scanning transmission electron microscope.

Map of two surface phonons split in energy by 7 meV on a MgO crystal, observed via an electron probe with energy resolution <0.025 eV. (Specimen and analysis courtesy of Isobel Bicket and Prof. Gianluigi Botton, The Canadian Centre for Electron Microscopy, McMaster University.)

The Spectra 300 S/TEM accepts a wide range of holders for in situ experiments with its all-in-one S-TWIN wide-gap pole piece. The Thermo Scientific NanoEx holder family can be seamlessly integrated with the microscope, enabling MEMS device-based heating for atomic imaging at elevated temperatures. Below, gold nanoparticles are heated to 700 degrees Celsius and the resulting motion is captured simultaneously with full frame 4k by 4k pixel resolution at a rate greater than 30 frames per second on a Ceta Camera with speed enhancement. The result is high spatial and temporal resolution of highly dynamic molecular behavior.

On the left is a high frame rate movie of gold nano-islands at high temperature, collected on a Ceta Camera with speed enhancement (left movie). On the right, the 4k x 4k sensor allows digital zoom while maintaining high resolution in the field of interest.

Introducing Spectra 300 S/TEM

Thermo Fisher Scientific introduces the Spectra 300 S/TEM – the highest-resolution, aberration-corrected, scanning transmission electron microscope for all materials science applications.

Register below to watch our recorded webinar and learn more about the Spectra 300 S/TEM; with its wide-gap pole piece and an accelerating voltage range of 30–300 kV, it serves as the tool of choice for the widest range of materials investigations.

Who should attend?

  • Materials scientists who need atomic-level characterization data on the widest variety of specimens
  • Researchers needing to analyze beam-sensitive materials or materials with low contrast
  • Researchers needing repeatable atomic-resolution imaging and analytics

Why should you attend?

  • Learn how the combination of high-throughput and sensitivity with uncompromised resolution in imaging and spectroscopy of the Spectra S/TEM enables researchers to acquire the highest quality data for all materials science applications
  • Discover how advanced access to automation enables users with different levels of experience to achieve the highest quality results
  • See how the Spectra S/TEM enables the widest variety of atomic-level materials characterization by combining the best resolution with the highest sensitivity and unique detection capabilities, as well as strategies that minimize damage to sensitive samples


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