One of the major challenges in the design of functional and engineering nanoscale materials is the characterization of complex three-dimensional structures on small length scales. One solution is to use electron tomography, a technique for imaging three-dimensional structures, pioneered originally in the life sciences, but that has recently been modified, using alternative imaging modes, for the analysis of inorganic materials. Here, we review how the technique of electron tomography has been developed and applied to a variety of structures and devices in materials science. We draw both from our own work and that of others in the field and give pointers for future applications and the likely growth of electron tomography as a powerful imaging and analytical tool.

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DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(04)00569-3