Sample Preparation Laboratory

Overview of Technique

Sample Preparation Laboratory contains equipment for mechanical thinning of materials, their polishing, cleaning and coating.

Cutting Tools:
  • Buehler Isomet Low Speed Saw - The Isomet Low Speed Saw is a precision sectioning saw designed for cutting all types of materials with little or no deformation. The instrument uses 3 - 5" diameters cutting saws of different types, special Isocut Fluid as lubricant preventing corrosion attack and various types of chucks for sample mounting.
  • GATAN 601 Ultrasound Disc Cutter - 601 Ultrasound Disc Cutter is aimed to cut brittle materials such as ceramics, semiconductors and minerals. The instrument rapidly produces specimen disks of 2-3 mm diameter from brittle materials of up to 5 mm thickness. It is required for preparation of TEM cross-sectional specimens. The cutting tool is driven by a crystal piezo, while water emulsion of SiC powder is used as a saw.

Polishing Tools:
  • Buehler Variable Speed Grinder/Polishers Ecomet 3 and Ecomet 6 - These two instruments carry high precise rotating polishing wheels (Ecomet 3 - one, Ecomet 6 - two). Both aluminum and glass wheels of 8" diameter are available for different type of polishing materials. The rotation speed is 10-500 rpm. The instruments could be used for manual polishing with GATAN 623 Disk Grinder and Buehler* MICRO-PRECISE Tri-Point Polisher as well as for polishing of metallographic samples.
  • Buehler MICRO-PRECISE Tri-Point Polisher Kit - The MICRO-PRECISE Tri-Point Polisher Kit is designed to accurately wedge polish samples with submicron features to electron transparency thickness for TEM analysis. Wedge polishing reduces the need for ion milling by mechanically thinning the area of interest to 1000 Angstrom. The MICRO-PRECISE Tri-Point Polisher Kit is recommended for material applications involving microelectronics, metals, ceramics, minerals and composites.
  • GATAN Model 601.0700 Cross Sectioning Kit - The 601.0700 Cross Sectioning Kit is designed for preparing cross-sectional samples for TEM study of interfaces from semiconductor devices, thin films of various substrates and composites. It used in conjunction with the Ultrasonic Disc Cutter, rectangular areas of interest are cut from bulk material. These sections are coated with epoxy, stacked and cured under pressure to obtain a strong bond with minimum glue thickness (< 1µm). A cylinder is cut from the stack, inserted into a brass tube for final sectioning and eventually dimpling prior to ion milling.
  • GATAN Disk Grinder - 623 Disk Grinder is aimed to perform highly precise initial mechanical pre-thinning and polishing of TEM specimens. It could be also used for preparation of other types specimens. Maximum size of the sample to be prepared with Disk Grinder is 9 mm diameter.
  • GATAN Dimple Grinder - 656 Dimple Grinder is used to reduce with minimal damage the central region of a typical 100 mm thick 3 mm diameter specimen blank to a few microns in times ranging from 20 min for silicon to 100 min for sapphire.

Final Polishing/Sputtering/Cleaning Tools:
  • GATAN 691 Precision Ion Polishing System (PIPSTM) - The PIPS™ system is aimed to perform final ion polishing for TEM samples preliminary thinned up to 10-20 mm. Milling process is carried out by two ion guns using Ar and working at energies 1.5-6 KeV.
  • Polaron SC7640 Sputter Coater The SC7640 Sputter Coater - is an extremely versatile sputter coater designed to produce fine grain "cool" coatings. Thin coatings of 2-3 nm could be achieved without charging effects being experienced in SEM. Gold and gold-palladium coatings are available for different type of samples.
  • Polaron E6700 Turbo Pumped Bench Top Evaporator - The E6700 Turbo Pumped Bench Top Evaporator is able to deposit carbon support films, to make metal evaporation, to prepare replicas, to perform shadowing and aperture cleaning. The instrument is equipped with rotary planetary stage allowing producing a multi-directional coating in high vacuum for different type of samples.
  • Fischione Model 1020 Plasma Cleaner - For optimal imaging and microanalysis in electron microscopy, it is imperative to have a clean, well-prepared specimen. This is especially important for FEG TEM, because specimen contamination rate tend to increase as probe size decreases and beam current density increases. The Model 1020 Plasma Cleaner effectively removes hydrocarbon contamination from most materials research specimens and specimen holders. It applies low-energy high frequency argon-oxygen plasma which effectively cleans a specimen's surface without changing its elemental composition or structural characteristics.