Fischione scores another Microscopy Today Innovation Award

August 5, 2015

Paul Fischione and Michael Boccabella accept the Microscopy Today Innovation Award for the Model 1080 PicoMill® TEM specimen preparation system from Microscopy Today Editor-in-Chief Charles E. Lyman.

Fischione's revolutionary Model 1080 PicoMill® TEM specimen preparation system was selected by Microscopy Today magazine as a recipient of the 2015 Microscopy Today Innovation Award. The recipients of the Innovation Awards were announced August 5, 2015 at the Microscopy & Microanalysis annual meeting, Portland, OR. This marks the third Microscopy Today Innovation Award won by Fischione Instruments.

As developers of the PicoMill system, Michael Boccabella and Fischione Instruments' CEO Paul Fischione were on hand to accept the award.

Advances in aberration-corrected transmission electron microscopy (TEM) demand specimens of higher quality to obtain the best high-resolution images. Increased use of focused ion beam (FIB) systems for the preparation of TEM specimens led Fischione Instruments to develop devices to enhance the quality of both conventional and FIB-prepared specimens. The PicoMill system adds improved imaging capabilities, precise endpoint detection, and better connectivity to the TEM.

The PicoMill system provides final thinning of specimens using site-specific, ultra-low-energy, inert gas ion milling. The system’s submicron ion-beam diameter, coupled with a low milling angle, allows targeting of a specific area of interest, prevents redeposition of material onto the specimen surface, and produces uniform thinning of dissimilar materials.

A scanning electron beam provides SEM imaging of the lamella (using either backscattered electrons or secondary electrons) even during ion milling, while the secondary electron detector (SED) also provides ion beam imaging. An electron detector beneath the specimen enables endpoint detection and quantification of electron transparency. The PicoMill system includes a TEM-style, side-entry goniometer that uses a specially designed specimen holder compatible with most TEMs. This means that a specimen can be transported quickly and safely from the PicoMill system to the TEM without handling.

High-volume enterprises, such as semiconductor manufacturers, frequently employ FIB systems to process a large quantity of TEM specimens. These FIBs use high energy ions to process specimens quickly, but this often results in specimen damage – amorphization and gallium implantation. For TEM specimens that need the highest quality preparation, the PicoMill system delivers ultra-low ion beam energies (as low as 50 eV) to the specimen. 

The PicoMill system is well suited to microelectronics applications. Shrinking sizes and increasingly complex geometries in microelectronic systems, such as three-dimensional FinFET gate architectures and vertical NAND gates, place extra demands on specimen preparation technologies. These devices have dissimilar materials with structures that may contain repeating layers of oxides, silicides, nitrides, and a mix of high-k and low-k dielectric materials. Such devices often employ materials that have very different sputter rates and, at the same time, may possess layer thicknesses of just a few atoms. 

PicoMill is a registered trademark of E.A. Fischione Instruments, Inc.