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Visualization of atomic electric fields

   Department of Physics

   Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Aberration-corrected Annular Dark Field STEM (ac-ADF-STEM) has provided some beautiful images and valuable insights into materials such as 2D materials, functional oxides and semiconductors, with each atom clearly resolved. New developments in fast pixelated detectors now allow a fourdimensional (4D) dataset to be acquired, where for each position of the electron probe, scanned in a 2D raster over the sample, a 2D image of the diffraction plane is recorded. This 4D-STEM data is useful because scientifically interesting signals, such as the presence of an internal electric field, exist in electron scattering patterns as second-order effects that are missed by an averaging detector but are very accessible when the complete data are collected. An electric field changes the trajectory of the electron beam due to the Lorentz force (Fig. 1 left). The deflection of the electron beam is magnified by post-specimen lenses. The ability of 4D-STEM to measure internal fields in a device structure without the need for contacts is extremely useful and could be applied for example to measure vortex fields and other novel topological structures in ferroelectrics (Fig. 1 right). The ambition of this project is to establish a robust and accurate methodology to determine the electric field in advanced functional materials. The capability in hardware, software and methods that will be developed will allow live imaging of internal electric fields at length scales from microns to atomic resolution. The work envisaged requires a high level of experimental techniques and data analysis, both with a significant computational element. Fig. 1. Left: Displacement of a STEM probe through an angle b due to an internal electric field in the specimen E. Right: vortex fields in a ferroelectric superlattice structure

For further information and details of how to apply, please see our postgraduate admissions website: Postgraduate - Department of Physics (

Funding Notes

Fully funded PhD studentship (42 months)

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