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Ultra-High Resolution TESCAN S8000X Xe Plasma FIB-SEM Destined for QUT

AXT and QUT (Queensland University of Technology) are pleased to announce that QUT have just ordered a TESCAN S8000X Xe plasma FIB-SEM. The S8000X is a next-generation FIB-SEM that offers unrivalled versatility, ultra-high-resolution imaging and high-speed nanomachining capabilities. It will be one of the flagship instruments at QUT’s Central Analytical Research Facility (CARF) when installed in the coming months.

The new TESCAN S8000X Xe plasma FIB-SEM.

The recently released S8000X next-generation FIB-SEM combines TESCAN’s new BrightBeam SEM column with their new iFIB+ focused ion beam column. The BrightBeam SEM column affords users truly uncompromised field-free, ultra-high resolution (UHR) imaging. It features electron optics that improve resolution even at low beam energies, making it ideal for examining even the most challenging non-conductive specimens and perfect for the ever-increasing requirements of researchers involved with cutting edge aspects of material science, e.g. nanotechnology/nanomaterials, semiconductors, as well as applications in life science and geosciences.

The new iFIB+ Xe plasma FIB column offers an unparalleled field of view resulting in the ability to carry out large area cross-sectioning as well as offering the highest levels of automation. The Xe plasma will enable QUT researchers to mill and fabricate at the nanoscale up to 50 times faster than conventional Gallium (Ga) FIBs.

Furthermore, using Xe avoids the drawbacks associated with Ga implantation, which can easily alter the sample’s physical properties or poison it. In addition, smaller amorphous layers are produced due to the limited range of Xe ions in materials in comparison with Ga. The S8000X also permits live SEM monitoring of the FIB milling process.

The S8000 series SEMs and FIB-SEMs also benefit from TESCAN’s new Essence user interface. The easily customisable interface can be tailored to the needs of the user. Each user can have their own application-oriented interface that provides access to the features and functionalities that they need, while those that they don’t can be tucked away. In essence, the user interface provides for faster, smoother instrument operation and will enhance the user experience for operators of all levels of experience.

Their system will be supplied with top of the line EDS (Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy) and EBSD (Electron Backscatter Diffraction) detectors for 3D chemical and microstructural analysis. The S8000X can also have ToF-SIMS integrated as an upgrade down the track. This upgrade provides the ultimate combination for 3D chemical mapping with spatial resolution (down to 50 nm) and extremely high levels of surface sensitivity. ToF-SIMS can also detect all elements in the periodic table as well as isotopes, going beyond other techniques such as EDS.

Dr Annalena Wolff, CARF Research Infrastructure Specialist (Focused Ion Beams ) who will be responsible for managing the TESCAN S8000X said, “we are very excited about getting the new system into our lab. It will help our researchers remain at the forefront of science and we look forward to collaborating with TESCAN to help make FIB technology more accessible to a wider audience”.

Dr Jamie Riches, Senior Research Officer (Microscopy) with CARF, added, “we have a large user base that are eager to get access to this new system as they know that it will benefit their research into areas such as geosciences, life sciences and materials research”. He added, “The large area cross-sectioning capabilities of the S8000X opens up the FIB-SEM technology to the geosciences as well as life science, which often require large area cross-sectional analysis with nanometre resolution, unfeasible to mill with Ga FIB-SEMs.”

Drs Wolff and Riches, as well as QUT are grateful to the Australian Research Council (ARC) LIEF funding scheme that has made this significant purchase possible, which will help to reinforce their research strengths as well as making this cutting edge technology accessible to a wider community.

The TESCAN S8000X FIB-SEM is part of AXT’s extensive microscopy and microanalysis portfolio. It accompanies other products and analytical techniques sourced from around the globe. For more details visit


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