Insights from industry

Uncompromized Materials Characterization at the Nanoscale With Tescan CLARA

Interview Banner insights from industryPetr KlímekProduct Marketing DirectorTescanIn this interview, AZoM speaks with Petr Klímek, Product Marketing Director for TESCAN, about the TESCAN CLARA, a field-free analytical UHR SEM for nanoscale materials characterization.

Please introduce yourself and the TESCAN CLARA.

Hello, my name is Petr Klímek. I am Product Marketing Director for material sciences at TESCAN. I am excited to introduce the new-generation TESCAN CLARA, our latest ultra-high-resolution SEM for fast, accurate and comprehensive nanoscale surface analysis of any material.

What are the challenges of ultra-high resolution nanoscale characterization?

Nanoscale characterization challenges really depend on the nature of the sample. If the sample is beam sensitive and charging, it can display different charging artifacts when the beam passes over it.

Electron beam transparency is equally important and challenging. Images acquired at low kilovolts provide significantly more information and value due to a higher level of detail. Achieving an image like this requires ultra-high-resolution capabilities, which conventional systems lack.

Another challenge in nanoscale characterization is the user interface. A complex user interface can limit research and sample throughput leading to delays in reporting results and identifying the root cause of failures.

Obtaining the right data requires experience, but the level of experience needed depends on the complexity of the sample and the ultra-high-resolution image. Frequent beam adjustment and searching for functions can be necessary, which slow down the process.

A lack of scalability and modularity in the software reduces the efficiency of the entire lab. Having a simple software interface that is not scalable is also a disadvantage because as the user becomes more experienced, they will want to be able to expand their use of more advanced functionalities.

What are the key features of the CLARA that overcome these challenges?

TESCAN CLARA provides clear, high-resolution imaging of surface details at the nanoscale for any material, at low landing voltages and without the need for sample preparation. Our system provides users with new insight into their materials using various contrast and micro-analytical methods.

The CLARA´s unique method for selective backscattered electron (BSE) imaging, differentiated by take-off angle and energy, uses two in-column BSE detectors and energy filtering technologies. Users can achieve field-free, ultra-high-resolution imaging with maximum topographic information, even from large or magnetic specimens, using BrightBeam™ technology.

Users can perform the ultimate topographic nanocharacterization at the lowest landing energies by combining CLARA’s BrightBeam™ technology and optional Beam Deceleration technologies. Meanwhile, they can quickly set up beam parameters for optimal imaging and analytical conditions using TESCAN´s In-Flight Beam Tracing™.

The optional MultiVac feature provides a gaseous secondary electron detector (GSD) and additional water vapor atmosphere, enabling users to reveal the finest topographic details from insulating, beam-sensitive and outgassing samples in low vacuum. Integrated BSE and cathodoluminescence (CL) detectors enable users to gain new insights into their materials.

TESCAN’s proprietary Wide Field Optics™ design speeds up the work, enabling users to get to areas of interest quickly and precisely. In this newest generation of TESCAN CLARA, we also introduce In-Flight™ Automated Controls as a new set of features delivering automation that reduces work, increases efficiency and data quality, and makes everything less dependent on user experience.

How does TESCAN’s Essence™ user interface empower users of the CLARA to achieve the best imaging and analysis results, regardless of experience?

The Essence™ user interface makes it easy to select which signal the user wants to observe from a specimen and capture up to six of the signals simultaneously. They have full control over the specimen stage, with access to selected functions such as multidetector filtering and the option to easily minimize, close or adjust the controls that are not in use.

With Essence™, users can easily recall, find, drag and drop controls to their interface whenever they need them, thanks to the modular and user-customizable design. It also provides access to additional anti-collision protection, which is called the Essence 3D Collision Model. The 3D Collision Model takes into account different samples, heat and trajectories of movable hardware. As long as the user inputs all the details about their samples, the 3D Collision Model provides a warning and image of the potential collision if a sample is in the trajectory of a retractable detector or any other hardware. This allows for quick adjustment of the position of the stage to avoid any issues which may slow down work, destroy the sample, or damage some of the valuable hardware inside of the system.

What optional advanced characterization accessories are available to expand research opportunities?

Users can expand their research using accessories such as integrated RAMAN, tensile-stage, heating stages or Serial Block Face Imaging (SBFI).

For example, TESCAN CLARA with integrated RAMAN can be used in battery research. It enables users to characterize specific weak points of different components inside the battery without the need for inert gas transfer between SEM and RAMAN.

Based on the structural and phase analysis, users can apply these methods to newly developed cells after cycling tests and identify the weakest points faster and more reliably.

How can TESCAN CLARA be customized for specific use cases?

Our “by researchers for research” design principle is at the core of TESCAN CLARA, and it enables customized experiments and analysis. Users can utilize TESCAN’s open-access architecture and hardware-configurable platform to design their own experiments and analytical routines, tailoring CLARA to their requirements and achieving the highest level of multimodal characterization performance.

What role has the TESCAN CLARA played in innovation so far?

TESCAN CLARA has delivered crucial data and driven progress in nanomaterials research. Nanomaterials have potential applications in composites, electronics, fuel cells, and batteries. Due to their unique properties, they can improve strength, durability, and resistance to environmental factors, making them a crucial area of research.

For example, TESCAN CLARA has been extremely useful in imaging carbon nanotubes at low voltages to evaluate characteristics like diameter, length and surface area. This kind of characterization is extremely important because these properties can determine the quality, and therefore the potential application, of nanomaterials.

Surface characterization is a crucial step in understanding the properties of nanomaterials. This is important information for composite manufacturers because it may significantly affect the adhesion of carbon nanotubes. You would not be able to see the surface features at the scale necessary without using the low landing voltages which CLARA delivers.

How can TESCAN CLARA be useful to the battery industry?

Batteries have been identified as a crucial component of a fossil fuel-free future and CLARA could play an important role in this.

Battery innovation relies on the effective and comprehensive structural and chemical multi-scale characterization of battery materials. Structural changes at the nanoscale are contributing significantly to battery production optimization, enhancing existing battery designs or new battery development with sufficient capacity, lifespan, faster charging rate and eco-friendliness.

At TESCAN, we provide solutions to the entire battery value chain. TESCAN CLARA is specifically useful in the analysis of active materials and battery components. Using ultra-high-resolution imaging, users can evaluate the structure and size of active materials before assembling a battery component, leading to longer lifespan, faster charging rate and increased battery capacity.

You can register for the full webinar on TESCAN'S CLARA here.

About Petr KlímekPetr Klímek

Petr Klímek, is the Product Marketing Director for Materials Science at TESCAN. He obtained his Ph.D. in Materials Sciences at Mendel University in Brno and then furthered his materials research experience through interning at Fraunhofer WKI and Oregon State University as a Fulbright Scholar.

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This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by TESCAN USA Inc.

For more information on this source, please visit TESCAN USA Inc.

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