Bright-field TEM imaging of single molecules: Dream or near future?

Marek Malac, Marco Beleggia, Ray Egerton, Yimei Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


We examine the suitability of spherical aberration (CS)-corrected (CS) and uncorrected (UC) transmission electron microscopes (TEM) for conventional bright-field imaging of radiation-sensitive materials. We have chosen an individual molecule suspended in vacuum as a hypothetical example of a well-defined radiation-sensitive sample. We find that for this particular sample, CS instruments provide about 30% improvement over an UC instrument in terms of signal/noise ratio per unit electron dose at 300kV. The lowest imaging doses can be achieved in CS instruments equipped with high-brightness electron source operated at low incident electron energies. Our calculations suggest that it may be possible to image individual, iodine- or bromine-substituted organic molecules in bright-field mode, at doses lower than the accepted values for radiation damage of aromatic molecules.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)40-49
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Spherical aberration
  • Radiation damage
  • Bright-field TEM
  • High-resolution TEM
  • Single molecule imaging
  • Low-dose imaging
  • Field-emission source


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