Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers Study How New Helium Ion Microscope Measures Up

08.09.2008
Just as test pilots push planes to explore their limits, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are probing the newest microscope technology to further improve measurement accuracy at the nanoscale.

Better nanoscale measurements are critical for setting standards and improving production in the semiconductor and nanomanufacturing industries.

This new microscope technology uses helium ions to generate the signal used to image extremely small objects, a technique analogous to the scanning electron microscope, which was first introduced commercially in the 1960s.

Paradoxically, although helium ions are far larger than electrons, they can provide higher resolution images with higher contrast. The depth of field is much better with the new technology too, so more of the image is in focus. “It is the physics,” explains Andras Vladar, SEM project leader in NIST’s Nanoscale-Metrology Group. “Ions have larger mass and shorter wavelength than electrons, so they can be better for imaging.” The images, he says, appear almost three-dimensional, revealing details smaller than a nanometer—the distance spanned by only three atoms in the silicon crystal.

NIST is working to understand the imaging mechanisms of this new technology. The clearest advantage of the helium ion microscope is that the images show the actual edge of a sample better than the SEM, which is critical in precision manufacturing. “Meeting critical dimensions by knowing where an edge is in high-tech manufacturing can mean the difference of hundreds of dollars per piece,” explains Michael Postek, chief of the NIST Precision Engineering Division and the nanomanufacturing program manager. Semiconductor manufacturers have multi-million dollar scanning electron microscopes all along their production lines to help control their microchip manufacturing processes.

NIST received the first-ever commercial helium ion microscope, called Orion, from Carl Zeiss, Inc., last summer as part of a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA). Researchers are test-piloting it in NIST’s Advanced Measurement Laboratory (AML), one of the most environmentally stable research facilities in the world. Carefully controlled for vibration, humidity and temperature changes, AML labs are optimal sites to test new microscope technology, say the researchers. “What we are learning,” explains Postek, “goes directly back to the manufacturers to improve their products, which allows NIST and industry to obtain the most precise measurements possible. We are transferring NIST technology and sharing our research with the semiconductor industry trade organization, SEMATECH.”

One such NIST contribution is “fast imaging,” a technique Vladar developed to obtain sharper images. A combination of vibrations at the nanoscale and taking images at high resolutions left certain images fuzzy, similar to what happens when taking a picture of a moving baby with a slow shutter speed. Instead of collecting the signal slowly and getting a fuzzy image, the NIST technique collects many images as fast as possible and merges them using a clever algorithm to reduce the fuzziness and result in a much sharper image.

Zeiss has recently replaced the original Orion with the first-ever Orion Plus, which incorporates many of NIST’s suggestions in its design, including an improved cooling system for the helium source for improved imaging.

Evelyn Brown | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.nist.gov

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Real-time feedback helps save energy and water
08.02.2017 | Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg

nachricht The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Switched-on DNA

20.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Second cause of hidden hearing loss identified

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

Prospect for more effective treatment of nerve pain

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>