In advanced publication of Nature Physics, Brian Abbey and colleagues present a new technique, called “Keyhole Coherent Diffractive Imaging”, which enables them to study extended objects (in similar fashion as ptychography, but based on a somewhat different geometry). The basic idea of KCDI is to combine Fresnel and Fraunhoffer imaging in a divergent (curved) wavefront by placing an imaged object behind the focal spot of a lens and use this additional information to reconstruct the wavefront. It is somewhat counter-intuitive to understand why curved wavefronts should provide a faster phase-retrieval algorithm convergence than flat wavefronts, but it’s a bit like mixing near-field and far-field techniques.
In advanced publication of Nature Materials, Urbana group lead by Jim Zuo show how application of coherent electron diffraction imaging (very similar to x-ray techniques) can reveal the relationship between the coordination number of Au atoms within a ~4 nm nanoparticle and the out-of-plane bond length. Electrons interact much stronger with matter than x-rays and one could argue that electrons are better for imaging of small nanosized objects, while x-rays are better for imaging extended micron-sized objects. Surface relaxation is a well-known phenomenon in surface science – due to reduced number of near-neighbors, atoms in the near-surface region end up with “dangling bonds” effect – and by turning these bonds inward the atoms can reduce out-of-plane atomic distance. Zuo and his group provide a very detailed analysis of surface relaxation for various facets of Au nanoparticles, as a function of near-neighbor coordination number.
And in a recent issue of Physical Review Letters, David LeBolloch’ and colleagues show that charge density wave condensate in blue bronze compound can spontaneously develop long-range correlations (up to micron-size) when the charge density waves is depinned due to applied current and is in a sliding state (imagine a particle on a washboard potential which is getting tilted).