Navigation Links
NIST studies how new helium ion microscope measures up

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 NISTs 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 nanometerthe 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 NISTs 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 NISTs suggestions in its design, including an improved cooling system for the helium source for improved imaging


Contact: Evelyn Brown
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Related biology technology :

1. Three Studies by Independent Scientists Highlighting Pressure Cycling Technology (PCT) to be Presented this Week at the British Mass Spectrometry Societys 29th Annual Meeting
2. Caliper Life Sciences Introduces High Throughput RNA Assay to Improve Workflow in Gene Expression Studies
3. Sigma-Aldrich and the Universite de Montreal Establish Collaboration for RNA Interference Studies
4. Argonne researcher studies what makes quantum dots blink
5. Three PDX (Pralatrexate) Studies Presented at the 2007 AACR-NCI-EORTC Conference
6. AIM-Quoted Verona Pharma Progresses Anti-Asthma Drug Studies
7. Rosetta Genomics Announces Initiation of In Vivo Studies Following Successful Completion of First Milestone in MicroRNA-based Therapeutic Program for Liver Cancer
8. Promising Data ATIR Studies Presented by NIH Investigators
9. Clemson researcher studies carbon fibers for nuclear reactor safety
10. 2007 a "Record Year" for Successful Validation Studies of Simbionix Simulators
11. GeneNews initiates patient sample accrual for validation studies of colon cancer blood test
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
NIST studies how new helium ion microscope measures up
(Date:11/24/2015)... KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia , Nov. 24, 2015 ... the global contract research organisation (CRO) market. The ... to result in lower margins but higher volume ... With increased capacity and scale, however, margins in ... Contract Research Organisation (CRO) Market ( ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... metabolism. But unless it is bound to proteins, copper is also toxic to ... researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) will conduct a systematic study of copper ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... This fall, global software solutions leader ... five states to develop and pitch their BIG ideas to improve health and wellness ... competing for votes to win the title of SAP's Teen Innovator, an all-expenses paid ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna ... announced today that the remaining 11,000 post-share consolidation ... Purchase Warrants (the "Series B Warrants") subject to ... exercised on November 23, 2015, which will result ... After giving effect to the issuance of such ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:11/19/2015)... , Nov. 19, 2015  Although some 350 ... is dominated by a few companies, according to Kalorama ... own 51% of the market share of the 6.1 ... The World Market for Molecular Diagnostic s . ... "The market is still controlled by one company and ...
(Date:11/17/2015)... LIVERMORE, Calif. , Nov. 17, 2015  Vigilant ... has joined its Board of Directors. ... Vigilant,s Board after recently retiring from the partnership at ... owning 107 companies with over $140 Billion in revenue.  ... performance improvement across all the TPG companies, from 1997 ...
(Date:11/12/2015)... LONDON , Nov. 11, 2015   ... and reliable analytical tools has been paving the ... and qualitative determination of discrete analytes in clinical, ... sensors are being predominantly used in medical applications, ... and environmental sectors due to continuous emphasis on ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):