|Ion Beam Microscopes
Ion beam microscopes, or focused ion beam microscopes (FIB), use a beam of ions to image a sample with a sub-micrometer level of detail. The focused ion beam can directly change or "mill" the sample exterior, via a "sputtering process", and this milling can be manipulated with nanometre precision. By carefully manipulating the energy and power of the ion beam, it is possible to carry out very precise nano-machining to generate minuscule features or to get rid of unwanted material.
An ion beam microscope becomes even more useful when it is coupled with a scanning electron microscope (SEM). In a dual-beam device, the electron and ion beams meet at a coincident point close to the sample surface, allowing instant, high-resolution SEM imaging of the FIB-milled sample.