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3D Analysis of the Morphology and Spatial Distribution of Nitrogen in Nitrogen-Doped Carbon Nanotubes by Energy-Filtered Transmission Electron Microscopy Tomography

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journal contribution
posted on 20.02.2016, 19:39 by Ileana Florea, Ovidiu Ersen, Raul Arenal, Dris Ihiawakrim, Cédric Messaoudi, Kambiz Chizari, Izabela Janowska, Cuong Pham-Huu
We present here the application of the energy-filtered transmission electron microscopy (EFTEM) in the tomographic mode to determine the precise 3D distribution of nitrogen within nitrogen-doped carbon nanotubes (N-CNTs). Several tilt series of energy-filtered images were acquired on the K ionization edges of carbon and nitrogen on a multiwalled N-CNT containing a high amount of nitrogen. Two tilt series of carbon and nitrogen 2D maps were then calculated from the corresponding energy-filtered images by using a proper extraction procedure of the chemical signals. Applying iterative reconstruction algorithms provided two spatially correlated C and N elemental-selective volumes, which were then simultaneously analyzed with the shape-sensitive reconstruction deduced from Zero-Loss recordings. With respect to the previous findings, crucial information obtained by analyzing the 3D chemical maps was that, among the two different kind of arches formed in these nanotubes (transversal or rounded ones depending on their morphology), the transversal arches contain more nitrogen than do the round ones. In addition, a detailed analysis of the shape-sensitive volume allowed the observation of an unexpected change in morphology along the tube axis: close to the round arches (with less N), the tube is roughly cylindrical, whereas near the transversal ones (with more N), its shape changes to a prism. This relatively new technique is very powerful in the material science because it combines the ability of the classical electron tomography to solve 3D structures and the chemical selectivity of the EFTEM imaging.