Many organic and inorganic compounds form only very small crystals whose structures cannot be determined by X-ray and neutron diffraction. Using the dynamic diffraction theory applied to the analysis of electron diffraction data, the structures of an organic (paracetamol) and inorganic (cobalt aluminophosphate) compound could be determined from crystals of size less than one micrometer. This approach makes it possible to detect even the lightest atom: hydrogen (represented by luminous halos on the cover of the magazine). This work opens the way to a broad use of electron diffraction for the determination of the structure of crystalline solids on a scale inaccessible by X-ray or neutron diffraction.Hydrogen positions in single nanocrystals revealed by electron diffraction.
L. Palatinus*, P. Brázda, P. Boullay*, O. Perez, M. Klementová, S. Petit, V. Eigner, M. Zaarour and S. Mintova, Science 355, 166-169 (2017).
The importance of this work is highlighted in an article « Perspective » published in Science 355, 133 (2017): “Electron Diffraction and the hydrogen atom “ by L. Mc Cusker
At the origin of this work is a research project (NICE) funded by LABEX Normand EMC3 . It is in this context that the researchers of the CRISMAT , the LCS and L. Palatinus of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic Synthesized and then resolved the structure of the cobalt aluminophophate.