Dual-Beam Plasma Focused Ion Beam-Scanning Electron Microscopy Testing Services

Dual-beam Plasma Focused Ion Beam-Scanning Electron Microscope (pFIB-SEM) Services

Covalent Metrology is proud to have partnered with one of four institutions worldwide outfitted with Thermo Fisher Scientific’s latest dual-beam plasma-focused ion-beam / scanning electron microscope. This instrument represents the latest research in ion-beam patterning and scanning electron microscopy, achieving unprecedented efficiency and resolution.

The new plasma-FIB dual-beam technology incorporated on this tool has been updated with higher current capabilities to expedite milling through a wide array of solid, vacuum-stable materials: streamlining analytical processes like cross-sectioning, micro-machining in 3D devices, and characterization of large-volume specimens.

The numerous applications of the FIB system can be readily expanded on the pFIB, owing to its multiple beam chemistries and enhanced detector outfit. The tool is particularly well suited for the characterization of metals, composites, coatings, and mineral samples, and has furthermore shown substantial promise in biological and clinical materials characterization, which could be difficult to characterize in traditional FIB systems.

Application Areas for pFIB-SEM:

  • Preparation of cross-sections of a sample at specific locations for HR-SEM / TEM analysis
  • Large-area / bulk material removal
  • Manipulation of samples which could not previously be managed with the standard Ga beam in FIB-SEM Instruments.

Uses & Limitations:

  • What it is great for:
    • Unrivaled speed in sharp, high-precision milling and patterning of materials
    • Highest-resolution possible visualization of surface features
  • Limitations:
    • Technique refinement and applications engineering are in ongoing development due to tool novelty to the market

Example Outputs of FIB-SEM:

Image depicting nanoprobe handling of structures up to 1mm in length (approximate pillar dimensions = 300 μm x 300 μm x 1,000 μm).

The image depicts improved contrast and resolution in atomic columns in standardization sample on TEM, prepared first with typical Ga+ ion beam (left); and then the Xe+ ion beam available on the G4 Helios plasma FIB-SEM system.

Instrument we use for pFIB-SEM:

Thermo Fisher Scientific Helios G4 PFIB UXe
This instrument is outfitted with Thermo Fisher’s patented Mono-chromated Elstar SEM column to deliver the most advanced electron beam performance and spatial resolution. The raw imaging capabilities of the tool are further bolstered by Thermo Fisher’s proprietary imaging software, enabling frame integration and drift correction to eliminate imaging artifacts in final shots of specimen surfaces, as well as 3D Slice-and-View technologies for tomography experiments. The high-precision 5-axis motorized sample stage is piezo-driven for acute control of sample position within 150 mm diameter area, with expanded tilt range as compared to standard FIB tools. For all cross-sectioning, milling, and patterning needs the new plasma-focused ion beam 2.0 column provides the fastest and cleanest cutting action, with currents from 1.5 pA to 2.5 μA (~50x greater than conventional Ga-ion beams) and multiple ion species to choose from (Xe, Ar, N and O). For chemical analysis, the tool is equipped with an EDX detector backed by the Path Finder software package, enabling chemical mapping, line-scans, and comprehensive qualitative elemental identification.