FEI launches extreme high-resolution SEM

By Dr Matt Wilkinson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Microscope

Electron microscopy expert FEI has launched a new range of scanning
electron microscopes (SEM) that enables sub-nanometre 3D surface
imaging.

The new Magellan XHR (extreme high resolution) SEM range will extend the range of nanoscale imaging and enable higher resolution, 3D images of carbon nanotubes, nanowires, catalysts and semiconductors to be generated at very low beam energies.

Using low energy electron beams is crucial for generating distortion-free images, as high energy beams penetrate into the material being analysed and cause image distortions.

The range currently comprises two models: the Magellan 400, developed specifically for scientific research; and the Magellan 400L, which has been optimised for semiconductor laboratories with the inclusion of a load-lock feature that speeds-up sample throughput.

"The Magellan XHR SEM is the most significant electron optics innovation since FEI introduced the Titan family three years ago," said Dr Rob Fastenau, FEI's executive vice president, marketing and technology.

"Magellan is the only family of instruments to make sub-nanometer resolution accessible in a practical sense to non-experts and without restriction on samples-constraints that have previously limited the utility and acceptance of other systems."

Likening the release of the Magellan SEM family to the Titan TEM family is a bold boast, with the Titan microscope forming the basis of the world's most powerful microscope, the TEAM 0.5 (transmission electron aberration-corrected microscope).

However, the importance of sub-nanometre resolution to both scientific and industrial research and development work is hard to overstate as it is an absolute requirement in semiconductor process development.

According to FEI, the high performance of the systems derives from the integration of new electron optics, proprietary electron gun technology, a high stability platform with fully configurable analytical chamber and a highly accurate five-axis piezo-ceramic stage that readily accommodates large samples or multiple smaller samples.

The systems can provide sub-nanometre resolution over a wide range of beam energies, from less than 1 kV (kilovolt) to 30kV. FEI claims that this will enable manufacturers to see critical details about complex 3D structures in 32nm nodes and below with unprecedented clarity and contrast.

Optional, full environmental enclosures are available to isolate the instruments from thermal and acoustic interferences and ensure peak instrument performance, while relaxing site requirements and facility preparation costs.

"As the performance benchmark in its category, Magellan is another demonstration of FEI's deep commitment to being the leading innovator of high-performance solutions in all of our markets," said Dr Fastenau.

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