Lattice strain measurement of core@shell electrocatalysts with 4D-STEM nanobeam electron diffraction
Strain engineering enables the direct modification of the atomic bonding and is currently an active area of research aimed at improving the electrocatalytic activity. However, directly measuring the lattice strain of individual catalyst nanoparticles is challenging, especially at the scale of a single unit cell. Here, we quantitatively map the strain present in rhodium@platinum (core@shell) nanocube electrocatalysts using conventional aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) and the recently developed technique of 4D-STEM nanobeam electron diffraction. We demonstrate that 4D-STEM combined with data pre-conditioning allows for quantitative lattice strain mapping with sub-picometer precision without the influence of scan distortions. When combined with multivariate curve resolution, 4D-STEM allows us to distinguish the nanocube core from the shell and to quantify the unit cell size as a function of distance from the core-shell interface. Our results demonstrate that 4D-STEM has significant precision and accuracy advantages in strain metrology of catalyst materials compared to aberration-corrected STEM imaging and is beneficial for extracting information about the evolution of strain in catalyst nanoparticles.