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Nanoscale spectroscopy with polarized X-rays by NEXAFS-TXM


Near-edge X-ray absorption spectroscopy (NEXAFS)1 is an essential analytical tool in material science. Combining NEXAFS with scanning transmission X-ray microscopy (STXM) adds spatial resolution and the possibility to study individual nanostructures2,3. Here, we describe a full-field transmission X-ray microscope (TXM) that generates high-resolution, large-area NEXAFS data with a collection rate two orders of magnitude faster than is possible with STXM. The TXM optical design combines a spectral resolution of EE = 1 × 104 with a spatial resolution of 25 nm in a field of view of 15–20 µm and a data acquisition time of 1 s. As an example, we present image stacks and polarization-dependent NEXAFS spectra from individual anisotropic sodium and protonated titanate nanoribbons. Our NEXAFS-TXM technique has the advantage that one image stack visualizes a large number of nanostructures and therefore already contains statistical information. This new high-resolution NEXAFS-TXM technique opens the way to advanced nanoscale science studies.

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Figure 1: Workflow for NEXAFS-TXM measurements.
Figure 2: Selected nanoribbons for data analysis.
Figure 3: Titanium L-edges recorded on anatase and rutile reference powder samples.
Figure 4: Titanium L-edge spectra.


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The authors thank S. Heim and R. Follath for their support during the development of the TXM and beamline. This work was funded in part by the Human Frontier Science Program (research grant RGP0053/2005-C), the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (contract 05KS4BY1/7), the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie GmbH, the Slovenian Research Agency (J2-9217), the COST Action MP0901, and the European Commission (contracts RII3-CT 2004-506008 (IASFS) and ERC 246791 (COUNTATOMS and ESMI)).

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Authors and Affiliations



P.G. contributed to the design and construction of the microscope and collected all NEXAFS data sets. C.B. prepared all of the specimens, helped collect the X-ray data and performed the analysis of the NEXAFS data. S.R. designed and constructed the zone plate objectives and assisted with microscope construction. P.U. synthesized the nanostructures and, together with X.K., performed TEM and SEM analysis, G.V.T. and C.P.E., together with C.B., analysed the NEXAFS and electron microscopy data. G.S. had the idea for the new TXM, directed the X-ray microscopy project and designed and built the microscope with his colleagues. All authors read and contributed to the Article.

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Correspondence to Carla Bittencourt or Gerd Schneider.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Guttmann, P., Bittencourt, C., Rehbein, S. et al. Nanoscale spectroscopy with polarized X-rays by NEXAFS-TXM. Nature Photon 6, 25–29 (2012).

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