In-situ observation of shape and atomic structure of Xe nanocrystals embedded in aluminium

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An imaging technique to determine in situ the shape and atomic structure of nanosized Xe crystals embedded in Al is described using high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM). The Xe nanocrystals, with sizes less than 5 nm were prepared by the implantation of 30 keV Xe+ into Al at room temperature. The fcc Xe nanocrystals are mesotactic with the Al lattice and have a lattice parameter ≈50% larger than that of Al. HRTEM images of the Xe were not clear in [110] zone axis illumination because of the small number of Xe atoms relative to Al atoms in any atom column. An off-axial imaging technique that consists of tilting the specimen several degrees from a zone axis and defocusing to suppress the Al lattice fringes is employed for the 110 projection of the Xe/Al system and the structure of the Xe nanocrystals is successfully imaged. The Xe images clearly represent projections of cuboctahedra with faces parallel to eight Al {111} planes truncated by six {100} planes. The results of multislice image simulations using a three-dimensional atomic model agreed well with the results obtained by the off-axial imaging technique. The usefulness of the technique is demonstrated with observations of crystal defects introduced into the Xe under intense 1000 keV electron irradiation.

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