About Our Research

The Kourkoutis electron microscopy group focuses on understanding and controlling nanostructured materials, from complex oxide heterostructures to materials for battery and photovoltaic applications to biological systems. Electron microscopy is at the heart of each of our projects. The advancement of existing or the development of new electron microscopy techniques is therefore integral part of our research. 

We use state-of-the-art electron microscopy techniques to study the microscopic properties of next generation energy materials, including semiconductor nanocrystal solar cell, all-Si tandem solar cells, fuel cells and batteries. The development of new energy conversion and storage technologies requires significant advances in understanding of structural changes at the many complex interfaces present in the electrodes and the electrolytes. Uncontrolled electrodeposition of metals at a battery anode, for example, has limited access to rechargeable batteries that offer ten-times the storage capacity of today’s batteries. Reliable methods for characterizing physicochemical changes at these complex interfaces are key to progress in the field.

If performed at cryogenic temperatures, electron microscopy also allows biological systems to be studied in their near-native environments. We apply and develop cryo-electron microscopy techniques to reveal the detailed molecular structure and organization of biological systems with the goal of understanding cellular processes and the function of individual macromolecules within their network.

Annual Summer Picnic

2014 picnic at Robert H. Treman state park

Top row (L to R): Pengzi Liu, Suk Hyun Sung, Ben Savitzky, Katie Spoth
Bottom row (L to R): Xue Bai, Lena, Michael Zachman, David Baek, Robert Hovden, Jerry Contreras

Plasmon tomography reveals that the size, shape and density of Si QDs, that form in Si rich oxide (SRO)/SiO2 multilayers upon annealing, can be controlled by varying the SRO stoichiometry.
Si QD network for all-Si solar cells

Plasmon tomography reveals that the size, shape and density of Si QDs, that form in Si rich oxide (SRO)/SiO2 multilayers upon annealing, can be controlled by varying the SRO stoichiometry.

Arrangment of PbSe NCs

Three-dimensional arrangement of PbSe nanocrystals (NCs) in a laser annealed PbSe/a-Si nanocomposite film imaged by electron tomography. 

Atomically abrupt oxide interfaces

High-angle annular dark field images of a La0.7Sr0.3MnO3/SrTiO3 superlattice grown by pulsed laser deposition. The view is down the [100] zone axis of the SrTiO3 substrate.

Electron Dose Series

Electron-dose series recorded on vitrified chromatophore vesicles in Rhodobacter sphaeroides, a purple bacterium. The total tolerable electron dose for vitrified samples is 50–100 e A−2.

Imaging Strain Fields

Strain fields at the low-angle twist grain boundary between SrTiO3 and Nb:SrTiO3 imaged by scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM).

Plasmon tomography reveals that the size, shape and density of Si QDs, that form in Si rich oxide (SRO)/SiO2 multilayers upon annealing, can be controlled by varying the SRO stoichiometry.