a1 Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, Nashville, TN 37232-0615, USA
Three-dimensional (3D) datasets were recorded of gold nanoparticles placed on both sides of silicon nitride membranes using focal series aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM). Deconvolution of the 3D datasets was applied to obtain the highest possible axial resolution. The deconvolution involved two different point spread functions, each calculated iteratively via blind deconvolution. Supporting membranes of different thicknesses were tested to study the effect of beam broadening on the deconvolution. It was found that several iterations of deconvolution was efficient in reducing the imaging noise. With an increasing number of iterations, the axial resolution was increased, and most of the structural information was preserved. Additional iterations improved the axial resolution by maximal a factor of 4 to 6, depending on the particular dataset, and up to 8 nm maximal, but also led to a reduction of the lateral size of the nanoparticles in the image. Thus, the deconvolution procedure optimized for the highest axial resolution is best suited for applications where one is interested in the 3D locations of nanoparticles only.
(Received May 11 2011)
(Accepted September 16 2011)