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Journal of Nanomaterials
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 506815, 15 pages
Research Article

The Analytical Transmission Electron Microscopy: A Powerful Tool for the Investigation of Low-Dimensional Carbon Nanomaterials

1Department of Occupational Hygiene, National Institution for Insurance against Accidents at Work (INAIL Research), Monte Porzio Catone, Rome, Italy
2Department of Technologies and Health, Italian National Institute of Health (ISS), Rome, Italy

Received 15 April 2013; Accepted 14 October 2013

Academic Editor: Nadya Mason

Copyright © 2013 Stefano Casciardi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Chemical and physical characterization of nanomaterials is essential to improve synthesis processes, for new technological and commercial applications, and to assess their toxicity through in vitro and in vivo studies. New nanomaterials and new synthesis processes are continuously tested and updated to exploit their innovative properties. In this paper, low-dimensional carbon nanostructure characterization was performed using analytical transmission electron microscopy. Conventional and advanced microscopy techniques, such as acquisition of high resolution images, nanobeam electron diffraction patterns, X-ray energy dispersion, and electron energy loss spectra, were used to determine the main physical and chemical properties of single wall and multiwall carbon nanotubes, graphene flakes, and amorphous carbon films. Through the resulting micrographs, diffraction patterns, and spectra, the main low-dimensional carbon nanostructures properties were determined in terms of structural defects and/or the presence of metallic or heavy elements, such as those used as catalyst or to decorate nanotubes. The obtained information is of crucial importance to investigate low-dimension nanomaterial biological activity.