Performing In Situ Closed-Cell Gas Reactions in the Transmission Electron Microscope

Kinga Unocic, Dale Hensley, Franklin Walden, Wilbur Bigelow, Michael Griffin, Susan Habas, Raymond Unocic, Lawrence Allard

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Gas reactions studied by in situ electron microscopy can be used to capture the real-time morphological and microchemical transformations of materials at length scales down to the atomic level. In situ closed-cell gas reaction (CCGR) studies performed using (scanning) transmission electron microscopy (STEM) can separate and identify localized dynamic reactions, which are extremely challenging to capture using other characterization techniques. For these experiments, we used a CCGR holder that utilizes microelectromechanical systems (MEMS)-based heating microchips (hereafter referred to as "E-chips"). The experimental protocol described here details the method for performing in situ gas reactions in dry and wet gases in an aberration-corrected STEM. This method finds relevance in many different materials systems, such as catalysis and high-temperature oxidation of structural materials at atmospheric pressure and in the presence of various gases with or without water vapor. Here, several sample preparation methods are described for various material form factors. During the reaction, mass spectra obtained with a residual gas analyzer (RGA) system with and without water vapor further validates gas exposure conditions during reactions. Integrating an RGA with an in situ CCGR-STEM system can, therefore, provide critical insight to correlate gas composition with the dynamic surface evolution of materials during reactions. In situ/operando studies using this approach allow for detailed investigation of the fundamental reaction mechanisms and kinetics that occur at specific environmental conditions (time, temperature, gas, pressure), in real-time, and at high spatial resolution.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere62174
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 JoVE Journal of Visualized Experiments.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5100-80358


  • closed-cell gas reaction
  • in situ electron microscopy
  • Pt/TiO2
  • sample preparation
  • scanning transmission electron microscopy


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