The stability and sensitivity of scanning transmission electron microscopes as well as detectors collecting e.g. electrons which suffered different scattering processes, or secondary radiation, have increased tremendously during the last decade. In order to fully exploit capabilities of simultaneously recording various signals with up to 1000 px/s acquisition rates the central issue is their synchronization. The latter is frequently a non-trivial problem without commercially available solution especially if detectors of different manufacturers are involved. In this paper, we present a simple scanning pattern enabling a posteriori synchronization of arbitrarily many signals being recorded entirely independently. We apply the approach to the simultaneous atomic-scale acquisition of signals from an annular dark-field detector and electron energy loss as well as energy-dispersive x-ray spectrometers. Errors emerging in scanning direction due to the independence of the respective processes are quantified and found to have a standard deviation of roughly half the pixel spacing. Since there are no intermediate waiting periods to maintain synchronicity, the proposed acquisition process is, in fact, demonstrated to be 12% faster than a commercial hardware-synchronized solution for identical sub-millisecond signal integration times and hence follows the trend in electron microscopy to extract more information per irradiating electron.
Bibliographical noteKAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: We thank Christian Jooss and the anonymous reviewers sincerely for carefully reading the manuscript and helping to improve its quality. Funding by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) via the CRC 1073, project B02 and Z02, is gratefully acknowledged.