Orion NanoFab HIM

Zeiss Orion nanofab

The Zeiss ORION NanoFab is a third generation Helium Ion Microscope (HIM) that uses high energy helium ions to image and modify surfaces.

Functionally it is very similar to a typical Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), but by using helium ions instead of electrons we can achieve greater spatial resolution than even the very best commercial SEMs currently available.

The interaction volume of a helium ion is much smaller than that of an electron, so we see much greater material contrast in HIM, and the beam is so well collimated that the depth-of-field is much greater than in SEM. This means we see more detail and higher sharpness while maintaining focus over a large depth range.

All of this is achieved by first ionising helium atoms at a tip that is so sharp only three atoms exist at its very apex. This is called a trimer.

The first trimer achieved on the NEXUS NanoFabOnce this is achieved, three beams of helium ions are emitted, one from each atom. We select one of these beams to align down the column and use for imaging. To the right is an image of the first trimer achieved on the NEXUS NanoFab.

The result is a technique that enables imaging with resolution below 0.5nm, and with such good materials contrast that we can easily see graphene on substrates, grain boundaries in metals and crystalline solids, and surface features that are invisible to SEM.

Key Features of HIM

  • Ultra-high resolution (<0.5nm) imaging of surfaces
  • High sensitivity to surface features
  • Very high materials contrast
  • High depth-of-field
Single-layer graphene on a copper grid

Applications of HIM

  • High resolution imaging of micro and nano structured materials
  • Imaging nano-sized arrays and nanoparticles
  • Imaging soft biological samples