FIB-SEM and Laser Ablation - Advanced Material Solutions

Thermo Scientific Helios 5 PFIB Laser Systems combine femtosecond laser ablation and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) imaging with plasma-focused ion beam milling.

This “TriBeam” combination provides unprecedented material removal rates for quick millimeter-scale characterization at nanometer resolution, along with high-resolution imaging and analysis with in situ ablation capability.

The femtosecond laser can cut many materials at rates that are orders of magnitude faster than a typical FIB. A large cross-section (hundreds of micrometers) can be created in under five minutes. The laser has a different removal mechanism (ablation versus the ion sputtering of FIB), and can therefore process challenging materials, such as non-conductive or ion-beam-sensitive samples.

The femtosecond laser pulses’ incredibly short duration results in nearly negligible artifacts, such as microcracking, heat impact, melting, and those common to conventional mechanical polishing. The majority of the time, the surfaces that have been laser-milled are sufficiently smooth for direct SEM imaging, and even for surface-sensitive methods like electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) mapping.

For applications like sample preparation for atom probe tomography (APT), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and 3D structural analysis, Thermo Scientific provides a wide range of products and sophisticated automation capabilities.

S/TEM and APT Sample Preparation

These instruments, which are based on the well-established Helios 5 DualBeam platform, feature a range of cutting-edge technologies to offer high-resolution, high-performance scanning/transmission electron microscopy (S/TEM) and atom probe tomography (APT) sample preparation, as well as extremely high-resolution SEM imaging with precise materials contrast. 

3D Structural Analysis

By selectively removing (milling) the material for subsurface characterization, TriBeam instruments, when used in conjunction with Thermo Scientific Auto Slice & View Software, offer 3D insight into sample structure.

Multimodal 3D datasets are produced by digital reconstruction and can include a range of signals, such as electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) for microstructural and crystallographic information, energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) for compositional information, and backscattered electron (BSE) imaging for maximum materials contrast.

TriBeam instruments’ SEM capability provides nanoscale details under a variety of operating conditions, ranging from charge-free, detailed surface information at lower energies to structural information obtained at 30 keV in STEM mode.

TriBeam systems are engineered to simultaneously acquire angular/energy-selective secondary-electron and BSE data, thanks to their special in-lens detectors. With its fully automated lens alignments, the unique SEM column design offers fast, accurate, and reproducible results.

Helios 5 Laser FIB-SEM Product Family

A wide variety of (P)FIB-SEM systems featuring fully integrated femtosecond lasers are available from Thermo Fisher Scientific. There are three models in this TriBeam product family, all equipped with a large chamber, a high-precision 150 mm piezo stage, and the best-in-class Thermo Scientific Elstar SEM Column. The FIB column represents the primary distinction between these models:

  • Helios 5 Laser Hydra System is a unique solution featuring multi-ion species PFIB technology
  • Helios 5 Laser PFIB System has a high-performance Xe+ PFIB column
  • Helios 5 Laser System comes with high-throughput Tomahawk HT FIB

Key Features of Helios 5 Focused Ion Beam Milling and Laser Ablation

15,000x Faster Rate of Material Removal via Laser

Millimeter-scale cross sections that remove material up to 15,000 times more quickly than a conventional focused ion beam.

Accurate and Repeatable Cut Placement

The same coincident point for all tree beams (SEM, (P)FIB, and laser) enables 3D characterization and precise and repeatable cut placement.

High Throughput Processing of Challenging Materials

Comprises samples that are ion beam sensitive or non-conductive.

Shares All Capabilities of the Helios 5 Platform

Superior APT and TEM sample preparation, as well as high-resolution imaging capabilities.

Statistically Relevant Subsurface and 3D Data Analysis

Acquisition of data in a shorter amount of time for much larger volumes.

Fast Characterization of Deep Subsurface Features

Extraction of subsurface TEM chunks or lamella for 3D analysis.

Rapid and Easy Characterization of Air-Sensitive Samples

Samples do not need to be transferred between instruments for imaging and cross-sectioning. 

Specifications of Helios 5 Focused Ion Beam Milling and Laser Ablation Systems

Source: Thermo Fisher Scientific – Electron Microscopy Solutions

Laser specifications
Laser integration
  • Fully integrated in the chamber with the same coincident point of all 3 beams (SEM/FIB/laser), enabling accurate and repeatable cut placement and 3D characterization.
First Harmonic
  • Wavelength
  • Pulse duration
  • 1030 nm (IR)
  • <280 fs
Second Harmonic
  • Wavelength
  • Pulse duration
  • 515 nm (green)
  • <300 fs
  • Coincident point
  • Objective lens
  • Polarization
  • WD = 4 mm (same as SEM/FIB)
  • Variable (motorized)
  • Horizontal/vertical
Repetition rate
  • 1 kHz – 1 MHz
Beam position accuracy
  • <250 nm
Protective shutter
  • Automated SEM/PFIB protective shutter
  • Laser control software
  • Laser 3D serial sectioning workflow
  • Laser 3D serial sectioning workflow with EBSD
  • Laser Scripting*
  • Interlocked laser enclosure (Class 1 laser safety)

* With optional Thermo Scientific AutoScript 4 Software. 

Other Equipment by this Supplier

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