Revolutionary TEM specimen preparation system introduced

August 4, 2014


Fischione Instruments introduced the PicoMill™ TEM specimen preparation system at the annual Microscopy & Microanalysis meeting and exhibit in Hartford, CT, on August 4. The PicoMill system will be available commercially in June 2015.

The PicoMill system was developed as a complement to focused ion beam (FIB) technology and it enables PicoMill system users to create the highest quality TEM specimens from FIB-created lamellae. It combines an ultra-low energy, inert gas ion source, and a scanning electron column with multiple detectors.

FIB milling is a widely used technique for today’s cutting-edge materials. The challenge in working with these advanced materials is to create specimens that are electron transparent and are free from artifacts. The FIB is highly effective in preparing TEM specimens, but the use of a high-energy, liquid metal ion source can often result in specimen amorphization, gallium implantation, or both.

The PicoMill system is the ideal complement to FIB technology; it removes amorphization and gallium implantation from the specimen and adds the increased capability of producing optimal specimen quality while enhancing the overall specimen preparation throughput by moving final thinning offline.

To maximize FIB capacity, specimens can be moved offline for final thinning on the PicoMill system. The PicoMill system provides the ability to precisely and predictably thin a specimen, which reduces the potential for rework and optimizes specimen processing time.

The PicoMill system’s ion source features a filament-based ionization chamber and electrostatic lenses. The ion source was specifically developed to produce ultra-low ion energies with a submicron ion beam diameter. It uses inert gas (argon) and has an operating voltage range of 50 eV to 2 kV. 

The ion source’s feedback control algorithm automatically produces stable and repeatable ion beam conditions over a wide variety of milling parameters. Redeposition of sputtered material onto the area of interest is avoided because the ion beam can be focused to a specific area. The ion beam can scan a region of the specimen’s surface or target a specific area for selective milling. The ions only contact the site of interest on the specimen; the ion beam is kept away from the specimen grid, which prevents redeposition.

The specially designed PicoMill system specimen holder can also be used in most TEMs, which means microscope connectivity for risk-free specimen handling.

Go to the PicoMill system product page to learn more.

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