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New S-TEM from FEI Features Picometre Resolution

Published on February 29, 2012 at 7:02 PM

FEI (NASDAQ: FEIC), a leading instrumentation company providing imaging and analysis systems for research and industry, today announced that a highly advanced microscope has been inaugurated at the Ernst Ruska-Centre (ER-C) in Jülich, Germany.

This microscope was funded by the Ernst Ruska-Centre's "PICO" project, and is based on FEI's Titan3 G2 60-300 scanning transmission electron microscope (S/TEM). It is one of only two of its kind in the world and the first one in Europe with chromatic aberration correction (CC).

The Advanced Picometre Resolution Project (PICO) is a joint development project between FEI, CEOS and the Ernst Ruska-Centre focused on building a microscope that pushes the envelope of the physical limits of electron optics. This technology will enable academic and industrial researchers to explore new frontiers in materials science for energy and information technology in order to better understand the relationship between the atomic structure, physical properties and potential applications. The sophisticated computer modeling methods developed by the ER-C scientists allows for unprecedented resolution of 50 picometers for materials science applications.

"The ER-C's achievement of 50 picometer resolution is the pinnacle of performance in the world of microscopy," stated Trisha Rice, vice president and general manager of FEI's Materials Science Business Unit. "As a leading solution provider, we are proud to supply this special Titan system to the ER-C as a major milestone in technology and enabler for potential new, exciting discoveries. It will allow for new insights in the fields of nanotechnology, solid state physics and materials science and the potential development of faster, more energy-efficient, and more reliable devices, materials and nanostructures."

The ER-C received approximately $20 million (USD) in funding for the project (covering the cost of the PICO system, additional analytical equipment, and new building expenses) from the Federal State, the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, the German Research Foundation, and the Helmholtz Association.

The PICO system is based on FEI's Titan3 G2 60-300 (S/TEM) platform. A chromatic aberration corrector has been added to improve resolution and precision, giving the system the capability to measure interatomic distances and atom displacements with a precision of five picometers to only one picometer. The PICO system also incorporates aberration-corrected electron optics developed in the 1990s by scientists at the EMBL Heidelberg, CEOS, the Technical University of Darmstadt and Forschungszentrum Jülich.

Major engineering achievements in the system include: integration of CC corrector technology; mastering the challenge of the 80 cm CC corrector module mechanics; the embedding of the user-friendly software; and the provision of the full flexibility of the 60 kV to 300 kV range of acceleration voltage.

Rice adds, "FEI has had a close collaboration with the ER-C for many years now, and in fact, the world's first available electron microscope was built with spherical aberration correction in Jülich on an FEI TEM."

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