With any kind of work, it helps to be able to see what you’re doing, but that can be a challenge when working at microscopic scales or below. By taking advantage of a system that combines two separate instruments – a focused ion beam (FIB) and a scanning electron microscope (SEM) – researchers are now able to do just that. They can modify a wide range of materials with the FIB while monitoring the process in real time with the SEM.
This EKB offers an introduction to FIB-SEM. It begins by describing the two component instruments and how they work, before detailing the advantages of combining them in one system. This is followed by a detailed explanation of the main ways in which researchers utilize FIB-SEM, from preparing samples for analysis by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) to conducting three-dimensional (3D) tomography to fabricating small-scale features.
The EKB also discusses practical issues that need to be considered when working with FIB-SEM, including sample preparation and reducing sample damage. In addition, it details several examples of how FIB-SEM is currently being utilized by scientists in their research, and showcases some of the latest developments, including advanced ion sources and combining FIB-SEM with complementary analytical techniques such as super-resolution light and X-ray microscopy.