Correlative infrared–electron nanoscopy reveals the local structure–conductivity relationship in zinc oxide nanowires.

J.M. Stiegler, R. Tena-Zaera, O. Idigoras, A. Chuvilin & R. Hillenbrand

Nature Communications 3, p.1131 (2012)
High-resolution characterization methods play a key role in the development, analysis and optimization of nanoscale materials and devices. Because of the various material properties, only a combination of different characterization techniques provides a comprehensive understanding of complex functional materials. Here we introduce correlative infrared–electron nanoscopy, a novel method yielding transmission electron microscope and infrared near-field images of one and the same nanostructure. While transmission electron microscopy provides structural information up to the atomic level, infrared near-field imaging yields nanoscale maps of chemical composition and conductivity. We demonstrate the method's potential by studying the relation between conductivity and crystal structure in ZnO nanowire cross-sections. The combination of infrared conductivity maps and the local crystal structure reveals a radial free-carrier gradient, which inversely correlates to the density of extended crystalline defects. Our method opens new avenues for studying the local interplay between structure, conductivity and chemical composition in widely different material systems.