Atom probe tomography enables atomic-resolution characterization of sample structure and elemental composition. This technique, which removes individual atoms from the sample surface (as ions) and measures their identity with a mass spectrometer, requires that the sample is in the form of a sharp tip to eject the ions for analysis. Focused ion beam (FIB) milling is well suited for this particular type of sample preparation as it can remove highly precise quantities of material. When coupled with a scanning electron microscope (SEM), as in DualBeam (FIB-SEM) instruments, the milling process can be visually monitored in real-time.

APT sample preparation with a PFIB DualBeam
APT sample rough milling and lift-out with a plasma focused ion beam (PFIB). Images (a-b) are SEM of the sample rough milled by a 2.5 µA FIB with free J-cut completed on one side and bottom. Images (c-f) are FIB images of the lift-out process, with one lift for multiple APT samples.

The fundamental criteria for a good APT sample are:

  • Needle-shaped specimen with tip radius typically less than 50 nm
  • Uniform, circular cross-section of the tip to produce a radially symmetric electric field
  • Correct taper angle for significant evaporation events to occur
  • Minimal damage introduced to the tip during specimen preparation (apex region of needle should represent original sample in terms of microstructure and composition)

Thermo Scientific DualBeam instruments offer gallium FIB and plasma FIB (PFIB) milling for high-quality APT sample preparation. With the Thermo Scientific Helios Hydra DualBeam, a range of plasma ion species (oxygen, argon, nitrogen, or xenon) can uniquely be applied within the same instrument to determine which ion is best suited for milling a given sample. The process can also be automated with Thermo Scientific Autoscript Software, greatly reducing the burden of repetitive sample preparation.


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Fundamental Materials Research

Novel materials are investigated at increasingly smaller scales for maximum control of their physical and chemical properties. Electron microscopy provides researchers with key insight into a wide variety of material characteristics at the micro- to nano-scale.



Battery Research

Battery development is enabled by multi-scale analysis with microCT, SEM and TEM, Raman spectroscopy, XPS, and digital 3D visualization and analysis. Learn how this approach provides the structural and chemical information needed to build better batteries.

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Metals Research

Effective production of metals requires precise control of inclusions and precipitates. Our automated tools can perform a variety of tasks critical for metal analysis including; nanoparticle counting, EDS chemical analysis and TEM sample preparation.

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Geological Research

Geoscience relies on consistent and accurate multi-scale observation of features within rock samples. SEM-EDS, combined with automation software, enables direct, large-scale analysis of texture and mineral composition for petrology and mineralogy research.

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Catalysis Research

Catalysts are critical for a majority of modern industrial processes. Their efficiency depends on the microscopic composition and morphology of the catalytic particles; EM with EDS is ideally suited for studying these properties.

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Helios 5 Laser PFIB System

  • Fast, millimeter-scale cross sections
  • Statistically relevant deep subsurface and 3D data analysis
  • Shares all capabilities of the Helios 5 PFIB platform

Helios Hydra DualBeam

  • 4 fast switchable ion species (Xe, Ar, O, N) for optimized PFIB processing of a widest range of materials
  • Ga-free TEM sample preparation
  • Extreme high resolution SEM imaging

Helios 5 DualBeam

  • Fully automated, high-quality, ultra-thin TEM sample preparation
  • High throughput, high resolution subsurface and 3D characterization
  • Rapid nanoprototyping capabilities

Helios 5 PFIB DualBeam

  • Gallium-free STEM and TEM sample preparation
  • Multi-modal subsurface and 3D information
  • Next-generation 2.5 μA xenon plasma FIB column

Scios 2 DualBeam

  • Full support of magnetic and non-conductive samples
  • High throughput subsurface and 3D characterization
  • Advanced ease of use and automation capabilities

AutoScript 4

  • improved reproducibility and accuracy
  • Unattended, high throughput imaging and patterning
  • Supported by Python 3.5-based scripting environment
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To ensure optimal system performance, we provide you access to a world-class network of field service experts, technical support, and certified spare parts.

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