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Fabrication of photonic devices through direct laser writing: how SEM contributes

By Marijke Scotuzzi - Oct 19, 2017

Photonic devices are widely used in the physical sciences for creating, manipulating and detecting light. In the future, the challenge will be to fabricate advanced photonic devices, which will require flexibility and tunability. Fabricating these devices is not easy, as they require an advanced three-dimensional lithographic technique. Direct laser writing (DLW) is an interesting approach that aims to achieve this using a liquid crystalline photoresist as light-sensitive material.

In this blog, we will describe how photoresists are specifically designed and tested for the fabrication of elastomeric light tunable photonic devices — and how imaging with a scanning electron microscope (SEM) helped in the design improvement process.

Photonic devices are widely used in the physical sciences for creating, manipulating and detecting light. In the future, the challenge will be to fabricate advanced photonic devices, which will require flexibility and tunability. Fabricating these devices is not easy, as they require an advanced three-dimensional lithographic technique. Direct laser writing (DLW) is an interesting approach that aims to achieve this using a liquid crystalline photoresist as light-sensitive material.

In this blog, we will describe how photoresists are specifically designed and tested for the fabrication of elastomeric light tunable photonic devices — and how imaging with a scanning electron microscope (SEM) helped in the design improvement process.

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Topics: photonics

How electron microscopy fuels the development of eco-friendly polymers

By Luigi Raspolini - Oct 12, 2017

Thermosetting polymers are widely used in modern industry due to their specific chemical and physical properties. With a wide range of applications, from components of huge aircraft to small electronics, epoxies are one of the main products of the polymers industry. This blog will focus on how these materials are improved and made eco-friendly, by making use of a scanning electron microscope (SEM).

Thermosetting polymers are widely used in modern industry due to their specific chemical and physical properties. With a wide range of applications, from components of huge aircraft to small electronics, epoxies are one of the main products of the polymers industry. This blog will focus on how these materials are improved and made eco-friendly, by making use of a scanning electron microscope (SEM).

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Topics: polymers

Scanning electron microscopy analysis of polymer coatings of stents

By Dr. Jasmin Zahn - Oct 5, 2017

The development of polymers and their diverse range of applications is a wide research field. Polymer materials became prevalent in implantable medical devices through processing capabilities in a wide variety of physical and chemical properties, as well as biocompatibility. This article describes how polymer coatings are used in the fabrication of drug-eluting coronary stents and how scanning electron microscopy (SEM) helps analyze the performance of these coatings in great detail. 

The development of polymers and their diverse range of applications is a wide research field. Polymer materials became prevalent in implantable medical devices through processing capabilities in a wide variety of physical and chemical properties, as well as biocompatibility. This article describes how polymer coatings are used in the fabrication of drug-eluting coronary stents and how scanning electron microscopy (SEM) helps analyze the performance of these coatings in great detail. 

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Topics: polymers

Why hi-tech textile engineering requires SEM analysis

By Luigi Raspolini - Sep 28, 2017

It’s been a long time since the textile industry relied exclusively on natural fibers. Over the decades, synthetic fibers have proven to be cheaper, easier to produce and often perform better. At the same time, chemical treatments have been developed that improve the smoothness and the resistance of both natural and synthetic fibers, which has resulted in higher quality products. Read this blog for more information on how electron microscopy can play a fundamental role in this development process.

It’s been a long time since the textile industry relied exclusively on natural fibers. Over the decades, synthetic fibers have proven to be cheaper, easier to produce and often perform better. At the same time, chemical treatments have been developed that improve the smoothness and the resistance of both natural and synthetic fibers, which has resulted in higher quality products. Read this blog for more information on how electron microscopy can play a fundamental role in this development process.

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Topics: SEM, fibers, textile

Sample preparation: how sputter coating assists your SEM imaging

By Antonis Nanakoudis - Sep 21, 2017

Scanning electron microscopes (SEMs) are very versatile tools that can provide information at the nanoscale of many different samples - with little or no sample preparation. In some cases though, combining SEMs with sputter coating is recommended, or even necessary, in order to get a good SEM image. In this blog, we will explain how sputter coating works, and to which type of samples it should be applied.

Scanning electron microscopes (SEMs) are very versatile tools that can provide information at the nanoscale of many different samples - with little or no sample preparation. In some cases though, combining SEMs with sputter coating is recommended, or even necessary, in order to get a good SEM image. In this blog, we will explain how sputter coating works, and to which type of samples it should be applied.

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Fabrication of silicon microstructures with KOH etching — imaged through SEM

By Marijke Scotuzzi - Sep 14, 2017

Potassium Hydroxide (KOH) etching is an important process in the fabrication of microdevices, and is used to remove material from a silicon wafer. It is possible to selectively etch only certain parts of the wafer, by protecting the rest with a layer of silicon dioxide, or mask. However, the presence of residues gives this technique a critical disadvantage, as it can negatively influence the fabrication process of the device. In this blog, we present a way of taking advantage of the etching residue, using it as a mask for a subsequent etching, in order to fabricate two-layer microstructures. We also provide examples of how these microstructures can be effectively imaged with SEM.

Potassium Hydroxide (KOH) etching is an important process in the fabrication of microdevices, and is used to remove material from a silicon wafer. It is possible to selectively etch only certain parts of the wafer, by protecting the rest with a layer of silicon dioxide, or mask. However, the presence of residues gives this technique a critical disadvantage, as it can negatively influence the fabrication process of the device. In this blog, we present a way of taking advantage of the etching residue, using it as a mask for a subsequent etching, in order to fabricate two-layer microstructures. We also provide examples of how these microstructures can be effectively imaged with SEM.

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Topics: SEM, SEM images

How EDX analysis with a scanning electron microscope (SEM) works

By Antonis Nanakoudis - Sep 7, 2017

Scanning electron microscopes (SEMs) employ electron beams in order to get information from a sample at the nanoscale. The main type of signals that are detected are the backscattered (BSE) and secondary electrons (SE), which generate a grayscale image of the sample at very high magnifications. However, there are many other signals which can be a product of the electron-matter interaction — these can provide additional information about the sample. In this blog we will describe how energy — dispersive — X-ray (EDX or EDS) analysis works on a SEM.

Scanning electron microscopes (SEMs) employ electron beams in order to get information from a sample at the nanoscale. The main type of signals that are detected are the backscattered (BSE) and secondary electrons (SE), which generate a grayscale image of the sample at very high magnifications. However, there are many other signals which can be a product of the electron-matter interaction — these can provide additional information about the sample. In this blog we will describe how energy — dispersive — X-ray (EDX or EDS) analysis works on a SEM.

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Topics: xray analysis, EDX

Why SEM is the most suitable microscopy technique for fiber analysis

By Karl Kersten - Sep 1, 2017

Fibers are all around us. Different types of fibers exist, but in most cases we do not notice them because they are used in a product. In case an object is much longer as it is wide we consider it a fiber. Fibers have specific properties for the product in which they are used. This blog will describe the different ways how these fibers can be classified and how their performance can best be analysed. Hint: it has something to do with putting fibers under a specific type of microscope. You're about to discover the most suitable microscopy technique for fiber analysis, so do read on!

Fibers are all around us. Different types of fibers exist, but in most cases we do not notice them because they are used in a product. In case an object is much longer as it is wide we consider it a fiber. Fibers have specific properties for the product in which they are used. This blog will describe the different ways how these fibers can be classified and how their performance can best be analysed. Hint: it has something to do with putting fibers under a specific type of microscope. You're about to discover the most suitable microscopy technique for fiber analysis, so do read on!

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Sample preparation techniques for SEM to neutralize the effect of vacuum

By Luigi Raspolini - Aug 24, 2017

Scanning electron microscopes (SEM) scan the surface of the sample with an electron beam, collecting reflected electrons which carry information about the material the electrons interact with. If gas is in the sample chamber, its atoms interact with the beam, partly deflecting electrons and adding noise to the image. 

This is the reason why vacuum must be achieved in SEM before imaging. But while vacuum is crucial for proper analysis, it can also have a negative effect on certain types of materials. Read this blog to learn how you can neutralize vacuum and keep your samples intact.

Scanning electron microscopes (SEM) scan the surface of the sample with an electron beam, collecting reflected electrons which carry information about the material the electrons interact with. If gas is in the sample chamber, its atoms interact with the beam, partly deflecting electrons and adding noise to the image. 

This is the reason why vacuum must be achieved in SEM before imaging. But while vacuum is crucial for proper analysis, it can also have a negative effect on certain types of materials. Read this blog to learn how you can neutralize vacuum and keep your samples intact.

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Expert sample preparation techniques for SEM

By Luigi Raspolini - Aug 17, 2017

When using a scanning electron microscope (SEM) for the first time, you might have doubts about what can be imaged. You might also struggle to get the image quality you were expecting. Luckily, you can easily improve your results by following the simple yet powerful sample preparation techniques for SEM in this blog. Read on! 

When using a scanning electron microscope (SEM) for the first time, you might have doubts about what can be imaged. You might also struggle to get the image quality you were expecting. Luckily, you can easily improve your results by following the simple yet powerful sample preparation techniques for SEM in this blog. Read on! 

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