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Sub-nanometre resolution imaging of polymer– fullerene photovoltaic blends using energy-filtered scanning electron microscopy

Robert C. Masters, Andrew J. Pearson, Tom S. Glen, Fabian-Cyril Sasam, Letian Li, Maurizio Dapor, Athene M. Donald, David G. Lidzey, Cornelia Rodenburg
The resolution capability of the scanning electron microscope has increased immensely in recent years, and is now within the sub-nanometre range, at least for inorganic materials. An equivalent advance has not yet been achieved for imaging the morphologies of nanostructured organic materials, such as organic photovoltaic blends. Here we show that energy-selective secondary electron detection can be used to obtain high-contrast, materialspecific images of an organic photovoltaic blend. We also find that we can differentiate mixed phases from pure material phases in our data. The lateral resolution demonstrated is twice that previously reported from secondary electron imaging. Our results suggest that our energy-filtered scanning electron microscopy approach will be able to make major inroads into the understanding of complex, nano-structured organic materials.
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Nature Communications 6 (2015) 6928