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 Drought hits rivers first and more strongly than agriculture
06.09.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie

nachricht Landslides triggered by human activity on the rise
23.08.2018 | European Geosciences Union

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: Goodbye, silicon? On the way to new electronic materials with metal-organic networks

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz (Germany) together with scientists from Dresden, Leipzig, Sofia (Bulgaria) and Madrid (Spain) have now developed and characterized a novel, metal-organic material which displays electrical properties mimicking those of highly crystalline silicon. The material which can easily be fabricated at room temperature could serve as a replacement for expensive conventional inorganic materials used in optoelectronics.

Silicon, a so called semiconductor, is currently widely employed for the development of components such as solar cells, LEDs or computer chips. High purity...

Im Focus: Storage & Transport of highly volatile Gases made safer & cheaper by the use of “Kinetic Trapping"

Augsburg chemists present a new technology for compressing, storing and transporting highly volatile gases in porous frameworks/New prospects for gas-powered vehicles

Storage of highly volatile gases has always been a major technological challenge, not least for use in the automotive sector, for, for example, methane or...

Im Focus: Disrupting crystalline order to restore superfluidity

When we put water in a freezer, water molecules crystallize and form ice. This change from one phase of matter to another is called a phase transition. While this transition, and countless others that occur in nature, typically takes place at the same fixed conditions, such as the freezing point, one can ask how it can be influenced in a controlled way.

We are all familiar with such control of the freezing transition, as it is an essential ingredient in the art of making a sorbet or a slushy. To make a cold...

Im Focus: Micro energy harvesters for the Internet of Things

Fraunhofer IWS Dresden scientists print electronic layers with polymer ink

Thin organic layers provide machines and equipment with new functions. They enable, for example, tiny energy recuperators. In future, these will be installed...

Im Focus: Dynamik einzelner Proteine

Neue Messmethode erlaubt es Forschenden, die Bewegung von Molekülen lange und genau zu verfolgen

Das Zusammenspiel aus Struktur und Dynamik bestimmt die Funktion von Proteinen, den molekularen Werkzeugen der Zelle. Durch Fortschritte in der...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Conference to pave the way for new therapies

17.10.2018 | Event News

Berlin5GWeek: Private industrial networks and temporary 5G connectivity islands

16.10.2018 | Event News

5th International Conference on Cellular Materials (CellMAT), Scientific Programme online

02.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nanocages in the lab and in the computer: how DNA-based dendrimers transport nanoparticles

19.10.2018 | Life Sciences

Thin films from Braunschweig on the way to Mercury

19.10.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

App-App-Hooray! - Innovative Kits for AR Applications

19.10.2018 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>