Innovation and Partnerships Office

KSpaceNavigator: Software for Controlling Electron Microscope Stages IB-2771


  • Electron microscopes
  • Crystallographic goniometers


  • Real-time identification of crystalline samples
  • Saves hours of trial-and-error by enabling precise, quick stage alignment
  • Saves tilt coordinates of a sample in any zone axis orientation
  • Users can visualize multiple display options
  • Users can edit crystal unit parameters
  • Compatible with crystallographic information files (CIFs)


Thomas Duden of Berkeley Lab has invented KSpaceNavigator, a software application that can be used with any electron microscope or crystallographic goniometer stage (double tilt or tilt rotation) to image crystal samples for the development of advanced materials. KSpaceNavigator is compatible with crystallographic information files (CIFs) such as those from the Crystallography Open Database (COD) allowing users to instantly identify the composition of a crystalline sample.

The Berkeley Lab software application enables users to interactively align the tilt and rotation angles of electron microscope or goniometer stages with a crystal sample’s zone axis orientation, or the position of a crystal sample’s atomic column along the z axis of the instrument — prerequisites for high-resolution imaging at the atomic scale. The new system displays the coordinates of a part of the sample’s crystalline structure, and replaces hours of trial-and-error alignment with improved accuracy.

KSpaceNavigator is the only stage control system that can determine a crystal sample’s zone axis orientation with just a few mouse clicks. This information then directly drives the tilt rotation or double tilt mechanism of the electron microscope stage. It is also the only system that allows users to visualize various display options, such as the stage tilt coordinates, the crystal sample’s coordinates, the sample’s crystalline unit cell structure, and simulated diffraction and Kikuchi line patterns, simultaneously and in real time.

The invention’s interactive “dial and go” display allows users to automatically adjust the microscope’s stage tilt to match a crystal sample’s zone axis orientation. This is a significant improvement over conventional microscope stage control systems and techniques requiring hours for users to manually tilt the microscope stage until a sample’s zone axis is perfectly aligned with the instrument’s optical axis.

DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Industrial prototype.

STATUS: Issued U. S. Patent #9,103,769. Available for licensing or collaborative research.

T. Duden, V. Radmilovic, A.K. Schmid, and U. Dahmen, “K-space Navigation for Accurate High-angle Tilting and Control of the TEAM Sample Stage,” Microscopy and Microanalysis 15, 1228–1229 (2009).


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