Differential phase-contrast (DPC) imaging in the scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) mode has been suggested as a new method to visualize the nanoscale electromagnetic features of materials. However, the quality of the DPC image is very sensitive to the electron-beam alignment, microscope setup, and specimen conditions. Unlike normal STEM imaging, the microscope setup variables in the DPC mode are not independent; rather, they are correlated factors decisive for field sensitivity. Here, we systematically investigated the independent and combinatory effects of microscope setups on the sensitivity of the DPC image in a hard magnet, Nd2Fe14B alloy. To improve sensitivity, a smaller overlap of the electron beam with annular detectors and a greater camera length were required. However, these factors cannot be controlled independently in the two-condenser-lens system. In this linked system, the effect of the camera length on the DPC sensitivity was slightly more predominant than the overlap. Furthermore, the DPC signal was noisy and scattered at a small overlap of less than 11%. The electron-beam current does not evidently affect the sensitivity. In addition, the DPC sensitivity was examined with respect to the sample thickness, and the optimum thickness for high sensitivity was approximately 65 nm for the hard magnetic material Nd2Fe14B. This practical approach to the STEM setup and sample thickness may provide experimental guidelines for further application of the DPC analysis method.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Structural Biology
- Materials Science(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Cell Biology