Dual-beam Focused Ion Beam-Scanning Electron Microscopy (FIB-SEM) Services

Sometimes features or areas of interest on a sample cannot be accessed or characterized fully via standard top-down analytical techniques on the tool. In these cases, a specialized suite of instruments outfitted with an additional focused ion beam source is necessary.

FIB-SEM tools utilize a high-energy, narrowly focused beam of charged atoms (most commonly Ga) to ablate the surface of a sample, facilitating precision removal of material where applied. This allows our technicians to perform single or serial cross-sectional analyses, SEM tomography (3D reconstruction of a sample from sliced views of the sample), lift-out procedures to prepare samples for TEM analysis, lithography and other in situ sample manipulations.

The technique is ubiquitous in applications throughout the fields of device engineering, semiconductor development, and electronics, and is growing in use in other areas of research from fabrics to biological samples.

Application Areas for FIB-SEM:

  • Preparation of cross-sections of a sample at specific locations for HR-SEM / TEM analysis
  • Electron lithography and ion welding of metal contacts on micro- and nano-scale devices

Uses & Limitations of FIB-SEM

  • What it’s great for:
    • Precision manipulation of a sample in situ with high-resolution imaging capabilities
    • Imaging multi-modal, sub-surface, and 3D information
    • Cutting, cleaving, trenching, and exposing different faces and facets of a sample for imaging and analysis
  • Limitations:
    • Sample damage is possible due to high-energy and current of applied ion species;
    • Insulating materials and substrates cannot generally be milled as cleanly as conductive materials, despite charge neutralization procedures.


Cross-section of display (FIB-SEM): this cross-section reveals the structure of pixels in fine detail.

Cross-section of a coating artifact reveals pockets of air underlie the deformed feature.

Instruments we use for FIB-SEM:

Thermo Scientific Scios DualBeam: The Scios™ DualBeam is an ultra-high-resolution analytical DualBeam system that delivers outstanding 2D and 3D performance for a broad range of samples, including magnetic material. With innovative features designed to increase throughput, precision, and ease of use, our Scios DualBeam is ideal for advanced research and analysis across academic, government, and industrial research environments.

Thermo Scientific Helios 5: The Helios 5™ is the latest model in the industry leading Helios dual-beam instrument family. It includes an ultra-bright electron source which confers maximal contrast and resolution for imaging with the Elstar electron column. Now equipped with an advanced suite of automated post processing tools, the Helios 5 produces the clearest, most detailed images possible on an SEM.