Gatan K2 Summit Reveals the Surface and Interfacial Structures of MOF ZIF-8

February 20, 2017

The K2® Summit and K2 IS direct detection cameras, capture TEM images with an unprecedented resolution that enable scientists to understand and design more efficient materials for energy and environmental applications.

The research article, “Unravelling surface and interfacial structure of a metal-organic framework by transmission electron microscopy” available through Nature Materials advance online publication, 20 February 2017 (, demonstrates how the K2 direct detection camera is advantageous to measure beam sensitive metal-organic framework (MOF) structures.

MOF structures have attracted tremendous attention in the last decade for their vast potential in many industrial applications. Even though modern electron microscopes have become more powerful with drastically improved resolution to sub-atomic levels, they have made little impact on porous materials such as MOFs whose structures are often sensitive to electron beam irradiation due to the extreme porosity.

Nevertheless, with the extraordinary ability to capture individual electrons under extremely low illumination conditions, the K2 direct detection camera was able to acquire high-resolution images of MOF ZIF-8 with an unprecedented resolution that reveal the atomic structures of the material’s bulk, surface, and interfacial areas.

 “Electron microscopy has always been an indispensable tool for structural characterization of a wide range of materials. However, its application on electron beam sensitive materials such as MOFs has been severely limited. The results presented in this paper prove, once again, that investing in high-performance image detectors is a smart choice,” said Dr. Ming Pan, Senior VP of Business Development at Gatan and co-author of the paper. “We are very pleased to have the opportunity to work with Prof. Han and our other co-authors to show the value of electron microscopy in the discovery of new structures that advance our fundamental understanding of structures, properties, and performance of materials.” 

Dr. Yu Han, a chemical science professor and co-author of the paper at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) stated, “Our attempts to acquire HRTEM for MOFs started years ago, but did not succeed until we used a Gatan K2 direct detection camera. The electron-counting mode of Gatan K2 camera demonstrates an unparalleled detective quantum efficiency (DQE) and enables HRTEM with ultra-low electron dose, making it possible to acquire HRTEM images of MOFs. On the basis of using the Gatan K2 camera, we are now exploring HRTEM for more beam-sensitive materials, and have achieved remarkable success." 

KAUST press release

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