The Focused Ion Beam (FIB) system uses a Ga + ion beam to raster over the surface of a sample in a similar way as the electron beam in a scanning electron microscope (SEM). The generated secondary electrons (or ions) are collected to form an image of the surface of the sample.

The ion beam allows the milling of small holes in the sample at well localized sites, so that cross-sectional images of the structure can be obtained or that modifications in the structures can be made. Most instruments combine nowadays a SEM and FIB column. Therefore, the Helios NanoLab 600 is called "DualBeam".

Generally the ion beam will be used for milling and the electron beam for imaging. It allows non-destructive imaging at higher magnifications and with better image resolution, and also more accurate control of the progress of the milling.

The applications of FIB include:

  • cross-sectional imaging through semiconductor devices (or any layered structure)
  • modification of the electrical routing on semiconductor devices
  • failure analysis
  • preparation for physico-chemical analysis
  • preparation of specimens for transmission electron microscopy (TEM)
  • preparation of samples for AtomProbe analysis
  • micro-machining
  • mask repair
  • non-semiconductor applications

Slice and view and 3D reconstruction

Catalyst porosity 1Catalyst porosity 2

Dual beam focussed ion beam tomography enables the study of structural changes at nm-μm scale caused during production or during operation under different conditions for the same type of samples (e.g. porosity changes in two catalysts - shown above).

Single slice and view image from 3D dataset
Single slice and view image from 3D dataset