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Observing Individual Atoms in 3D Nanomaterials and Their Surfaces
Atoms are the basic building blocks for all materials. To tailor functional properties, it is essential to accurately determine their atomic structures. KAIST researchers observed the 3D atomic structure of a nanoparticle at the atom level via neural network-assisted atomic electron tomography. Using a platinum nanoparticle as a model system, a research team led by Professor Yongsoo Yang demonstrated that an atomicity-based deep learning approach can reliably identify the 3D surface atomic structure with a precision of 15 picometers (only about 1/3 of a hydrogen atom’s radius). The atomic displacement, strain, and facet analysis revealed that the surface atomic structure and strain are related to both the shape of the nanoparticle and the particle-substrate interface. Combined with quantum mechanical calculations such as density functional theory, the ability to precisely identify surface atomic structure will serve as a powerful key for understanding catalytic performance and oxidation effect. “We solved the problem of determining the 3D surface atomic structure of nanomaterials in a reliable manner. It has been difficult to accurately measure the surface atomic structures due to the ‘missing wedge problem’ in electron tomography, which arises from geometrical limitations, allowing only part of a full tomographic angular range to be measured. We resolved the problem using a deep learning-based approach,” explained Professor Yang. The missing wedge problem results in elongation and ringing artifacts, negatively affecting the accuracy of the atomic structure determined from the tomogram, especially for identifying the surface structures. The missing wedge problem has been the main roadblock for the precise determination of the 3D surface atomic structures of nanomaterials. The team used atomic electron tomography (AET), which is basically a very high-resolution CT scan for nanomaterials using transmission electron microscopes. AET allows individual atom level 3D atomic structural determination. “The main idea behind this deep learning-based approach is atomicity—the fact that all matter is composed of atoms. This means that true atomic resolution electron tomogram should only contain sharp 3D atomic potentials convolved with the electron beam profile,” said Professor Yang. “A deep neural network can be trained using simulated tomograms that suffer from missing wedges as inputs, and the ground truth 3D atomic volumes as targets. The trained deep learning network effectively augments the imperfect tomograms and removes the artifacts resulting from the missing wedge problem.” The precision of 3D atomic structure can be enhanced by nearly 70% by applying the deep learning-based augmentation. The accuracy of surface atom identification was also significantly improved. Structure-property relationships of functional nanomaterials, especially the ones that strongly depend on the surface structures, such as catalytic properties for fuel-cell applications, can now be revealed at one of the most fundamental scales: the atomic scale. Professor Yang concluded, “We would like to fully map out the 3D atomic structure with higher precision and better elemental specificity. And not being limited to atomic structures, we aim to measure the physical, chemical, and functional properties of nanomaterials at the 3D atomic scale by further advancing electron tomography techniques.” This research, reported at Nature Communications, was funded by the National Research Foundation of Korea and the KAIST Global Singularity Research M3I3 Project. -Publication Juhyeok Lee, Chaehwa Jeong & Yongsoo Yang “Single-atom level determination of 3-dimensional surface atomic structure via neural network-assisted atomic electron tomography” Nature Communications -Profile Professor Yongsoo Yang Department of Physics Multi-Dimensional Atomic Imaging Lab (MDAIL) http://mdail.kaist.ac.kr KAIST
Streamlining the Process of Materials Discovery
The materials platform M3I3 reduces the time for materials discovery by reverse engineering future materials using multiscale/multimodal imaging and machine learning of the processing-structure-properties relationship Developing new materials and novel processes has continued to change the world. The M3I3 Initiative at KAIST has led to new insights into advancing materials development by implementing breakthroughs in materials imaging that have created a paradigm shift in the discovery of materials. The Initiative features the multiscale modeling and imaging of structure and property relationships and materials hierarchies combined with the latest material-processing data. The research team led by Professor Seungbum Hong analyzed the materials research projects reported by leading global institutes and research groups, and derived a quantitative model using machine learning with a scientific interpretation. This process embodies the research goal of the M3I3: Materials and Molecular Modeling, Imaging, Informatics and Integration. The researchers discussed the role of multiscale materials and molecular imaging combined with machine learning and also presented a future outlook for developments and the major challenges of M3I3. By building this model, the research team envisions creating desired sets of properties for materials and obtaining the optimum processing recipes to synthesize them. “The development of various microscopy and diffraction tools with the ability to map the structure, property, and performance of materials at multiscale levels and in real time enabled us to think that materials imaging could radically accelerate materials discovery and development,” says Professor Hong. “We plan to build an M3I3 repository of searchable structural and property maps using FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) principles to standardize best practices as well as streamline the training of early career researchers.” One of the examples that shows the power of structure-property imaging at the nanoscale is the development of future materials for emerging nonvolatile memory devices. Specifically, the research team focused on microscopy using photons, electrons, and physical probes on the multiscale structural hierarchy, as well as structure-property relationships to enhance the performance of memory devices. “M3I3 is an algorithm for performing the reverse engineering of future materials. Reverse engineering starts by analyzing the structure and composition of cutting-edge materials or products. Once the research team determines the performance of our targeted future materials, we need to know the candidate structures and compositions for producing the future materials.” The research team has built a data-driven experimental design based on traditional NCM (nickel, cobalt, and manganese) cathode materials. With this, the research team expanded their future direction for achieving even higher discharge capacity, which can be realized via Li-rich cathodes. However, one of the major challenges was the limitation of available data that describes the Li-rich cathode properties. To mitigate this problem, the researchers proposed two solutions: First, they should build a machine-learning-guided data generator for data augmentation. Second, they would use a machine-learning method based on ‘transfer learning.’ Since the NCM cathode database shares a common feature with a Li-rich cathode, one could consider repurposing the NCM trained model for assisting the Li-rich prediction. With the pretrained model and transfer learning, the team expects to achieve outstanding predictions for Li-rich cathodes even with the small data set. With advances in experimental imaging and the availability of well-resolved information and big data, along with significant advances in high-performance computing and a worldwide thrust toward a general, collaborative, integrative, and on-demand research platform, there is a clear confluence in the required capabilities of advancing the M3I3 Initiative. Professor Hong said, “Once we succeed in using the inverse “property−structure−processing” solver to develop cathode, anode, electrolyte, and membrane materials for high energy density Li-ion batteries, we will expand our scope of materials to battery/fuel cells, aerospace, automobiles, food, medicine, and cosmetic materials.” The review was published in ACS Nano in March. This study was conducted through collaborations with Dr. Chi Hao Liow, Professor Jong Min Yuk, Professor Hye Ryung Byon, Professor Yongsoo Yang, Professor EunAe Cho, Professor Pyuck-Pa Choi, and Professor Hyuck Mo Lee at KAIST, Professor Joshua C. Agar at Lehigh University, Dr. Sergei V. Kalinin at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Professor Peter W. Voorhees at Northwestern University, and Professor Peter Littlewood at the University of Chicago (Article title: Reducing Time to Discovery: Materials and Molecular Modeling, Imaging, Informatics, and Integration).This work was supported by the KAIST Global Singularity Research Program for 2019 and 2020. Publication: “Reducing Time to Discovery: Materials and Molecular Modeling, Imaging, Informatics and Integration,” S. Hong, C. H. Liow, J. M. Yuk, H. R. Byon, Y. Yang, E. Cho, J. Yeom, G. Park, H. Kang, S. Kim, Y. Shim, M. Na, C. Jeong, G. Hwang, H. Kim, H. Kim, S. Eom, S. Cho, H. Jun, Y. Lee, A. Baucour, K. Bang, M. Kim, S. Yun, J. Ryu, Y. Han, A. Jetybayeva, P.-P. Choi, J. C. Agar, S. V. Kalinin, P. W. Voorhees, P. Littlewood, and H. M. Lee, ACS Nano 15, 3, 3971–3995 (2021) https://doi.org/10.1021/acsnano.1c00211 Profile: Seungbum Hong, PhD Associate Professor firstname.lastname@example.org http://mii.kaist.ac.kr Department of Materials Science and Engineering KAIST (END)
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