Over time, there has been an increasing interest in observing catalysts in their operating environment at high spatial resolution and ultimately to determine the structure of a catalytically active surface. One tool with the potential to do exactly this in direct space is the transmission electron microscope, and since its invention by Ernst Ruska, the idea of imaging samples under gaseous atmospheres was envisioned. However, microscopes have traditionally been operated in high vacuum due to sensitive electron sources, sample contamination, and electron scattering off gas molecules resulting in loss of resolution. Using suitably clean gases, modified pumping schemes, and short pathways through dense gas regions, these issues are now circumvented. Here we provide an account of best practice using environmental transmission electron microscopy on catalytic systems illustrated using select examples from the literature showing how in situ electron microscopy can provide new insight into the state of catalysts under reactive environments. © 2014 American Chemical Society.
- In situ
- Controlled atmosphere