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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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SEM sample tilting: how to keep the area of interest within the field of view

By Luigi Raspolini - Aug 10, 2017

Certain samples are tricky to image. Sometimes, even the best sample preparation will be of no help in finding the results you need. Surface roughness and features on top of the sample might hide the specific area of interest, which could contain crucial information about surface defects or characteristics of the imaged material. In cases like this, you need a new point of view. Read this blog to discover how you can get just that.

Certain samples are tricky to image. Sometimes, even the best sample preparation will be of no help in finding the results you need. Surface roughness and features on top of the sample might hide the specific area of interest, which could contain crucial information about surface defects or characteristics of the imaged material. In cases like this, you need a new point of view. Read this blog to discover how you can get just that.

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Topics: SEM, tilting

Desktop SEM electron sources: why CeB6 is the right choice

By Karl Kersten - Aug 3, 2017

If you’re looking for a scanning electron microscope (SEM), you probably know by now that the electron source is one of the most important parts of the system. In a previous blog, we talked about the properties of three different electron sources: the Tungsten, CeB6 and FEG sourcesIn this blog, we’ll take a closer look at Tungsten and CeB6 electron sources.

If you’re looking for a scanning electron microscope (SEM), you probably know by now that the electron source is one of the most important parts of the system. In a previous blog, we talked about the properties of three different electron sources: the Tungsten, CeB6 and FEG sourcesIn this blog, we’ll take a closer look at Tungsten and CeB6 electron sources.

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How SEM revealed a solution to enhance hemp fibers for better properties

By Dr. Jasmin Zahn - Jul 26, 2017

Industrial hemp is one of the fastest growing plants and was one of the first plants used for the production of fibers about 10,000 years ago. Hemp fiber has been used extensively throughout history, with production climaxing soon after it was introduced to the New World. Read this blog to discover how hemp fibers can be used even more extensively because of better fiber properties, and how SEM helped reveal the solution that realizes these improvements. 

Industrial hemp is one of the fastest growing plants and was one of the first plants used for the production of fibers about 10,000 years ago. Hemp fiber has been used extensively throughout history, with production climaxing soon after it was introduced to the New World. Read this blog to discover how hemp fibers can be used even more extensively because of better fiber properties, and how SEM helped reveal the solution that realizes these improvements. 

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The power and potential of a programmable interface for desktop SEMs

By Ruud Bernsen - Jul 20, 2017

In previous blogs, I have written about automating large applications. But automation can also make the smaller tasks  quicker and easier for an operator. Behind every button on the menu, there is a command that is activated in code. The Phenom Programming Interface (PPI) gives you access to those commands, enabling you to write your own scripts. In this blog, I will cover a few simple examples of what you can do with PPI.

In previous blogs, I have written about automating large applications. But automation can also make the smaller tasks  quicker and easier for an operator. Behind every button on the menu, there is a command that is activated in code. The Phenom Programming Interface (PPI) gives you access to those commands, enabling you to write your own scripts. In this blog, I will cover a few simple examples of what you can do with PPI.

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