Sources of error in Debye–Waller-effect measurements relevant to studies of photoinduced structural dynamics

Elisah J. VandenBussche, David J. Flannigan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


We identify and quantify several practical effects likely to be present in both static and ultrafast electron-scattering experiments that may interfere with the Debye–Waller (DW) effect. Using 120-nm thick, small-grained, polycrystalline aluminum foils as a test system, we illustrate the impact of specimen tilting, in-plane translation, and changes in z height on Debye–Scherrer-ring intensities. We find that tilting by less than one degree can result in statistically-significant changes in diffracted-beam intensities for large specimen regions containing > 105 nanocrystalline grains. We demonstrate that, in addition to effective changes in the field of view with tilting, slight texturing of the film can result in deviations from expected DW-effect behavior. Further, we find that in-plane translations of as little as 20 nm also produce statistically-significant intensity changes, while normalization to total image counts eliminates such effects arising from changes in z height. The results indicate that the use of polycrystalline films in ultrafast electron-scattering experiments can greatly reduce the negative impacts of these effects as compared to single-crystal specimens, though it does not entirely eliminate them. Thus, it is important to account for such effects when studying thin-foil specimens having relatively short reciprocal-lattice rods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-120
Number of pages10
StatePublished - Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program under Grant No. 00039202 . Partial support is provided by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DMR-1654318 and by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation in the form of a Beckman Young Investigator Award.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier B.V.


  • Debye–Waller effect
  • In situ electron microscopy
  • Transmission electron microscopy
  • Ultrafast electron diffraction
  • Ultrafast electron microscopy
  • Ultrafast structural dynamics


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