Three Dimensional Chemical Analysis of Nanoparticles Using Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy

  • Thomas Slater

    Student thesis: Phd


    The aim of this thesis is to investigate the methodology of three dimensional chemical imaging of nanoparticles through the use of scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM) - energy dispersive X-ray (EDX) spectroscopy.In this thesis, an absorption correction factor is derived for spherical nanoparticles that can correct X-ray absorption effects. Quantification of EDX spectra of nanoparticles usually neglects X-ray absorption within the nanoparticle but may lead to erroneous results, thus an absorption correction is important for accurate compositional quantification. The absorption correction presented is verified through comparison with experimental data of Au X-ray peaks in spherical Au nanoparticles and is found to agree excellently. This absorption correction allows accurate compositional quantification of large (> 100 nm) particles with STEM-EDX.Three dimensional chemical mapping is achievable through the use of EDX spectroscopy with electron tomography. Here, the methodology of STEM-EDX tomography is fully explored, with a focus on how to avoid artefacts introduced through detector shadowing and low counts per pixel. A varied-time acquisition scheme is proposed to correct for detector shadowing that is shown to provide a more constant intensity over a series of projections, allowing a higher fidelity reconstruction. The STEM-EDX tomography methodology presented is applied to the study of AgAu nanoparticles synthesized by the galvanic replacement reaction. The elemental distribution as a function of the composition of the as-synthesized nanoparticles is characterised and a reversal in the element segregated to the surface of the nanoparticles is found. The composition at which the reversal takes place is shown to correlate with a peak in the catalytic yield of a three component coupling reaction. It is hypothesized that a continuous Au surface results in the optimum catalytic conditions for the reaction studied, which guides the use of galvanically prepared AgAu nanoparticles as catalysts.
    Date of Award31 Dec 2015
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • The University of Manchester
    SupervisorSarah Haigh (Supervisor) & Paul O'Brien (Supervisor)


    • Electron tomography
    • Scanning transmission electron microscope
    • Energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy
    • Bimetallic nanoparticles

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