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Diederichs, Benedikt; Herdegen, Ziria; Strauch, Achim; Filbir, Frank; Müller-Caspary, Knut (2024): Exact inversion of partially coherent dynamical electron scattering for picometric structure retrieval. Nature Communications, 15 (1). ISSN 2041-1723

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The greatly nonlinear diffraction of high-energy electron probes focused to subatomic diameters frustrates the direct inversion of ptychographic data sets to decipher the atomic structure. Several iterative algorithms have been proposed to yield atomically-resolved phase distributions within slices of a 3D specimen, corresponding to the scattering centers of the electron wave. By pixelwise phase retrieval, current approaches do not only involve orders of magnitude more free parameters than necessary, but also neglect essential details of scattering physics such as the atomistic nature of the specimen and thermal effects. Here, we introduce a parametrized, fully differentiable scheme employing neural network concepts which allows the inversion of ptychographic data by means of entirely physical quantities. Omnipresent thermal diffuse scattering in thick specimens is treated accurately using frozen phonons, and atom types, positions and partial coherence are accounted for in the inverse model as relativistic scattering theory demands. Our approach exploits 4D experimental data collected in an aberration-corrected momentum-resolved scanning transmission electron microscopy setup. Atom positions in a 20 nm thick PbZr0.2Ti0.8O3 ferroelectric are measured with picometer precision, including the discrimination of different atom types and positions in mixed columns.

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