TESCAN ORSAY HOLDING a.s. announces its latest generation AutoSlicer™ module for unattended, semi-automated transmission electron microscope (TEM) lamella preparation in semiconductor failure analysis and materials science.
For both Gallium (Ga) focused ion beam (FIB)-scanning electron microscope (SEM) and Plasma FIB-SEM instruments, TESCAN’s AutoSlicer enables high throughput TEM sample preparation at multiple sites or on multiple samples and provides full control over the specific parameters required for optimal sample quality.
Automating the initial TEM sample preparation process steps speeds processing time, assures sample uniformity, and alleviates concerns that samples may not meet the quality requirements for subsequent imaging and analysis. As the number of samples needing to be prepared daily increases, researchers and engineers need to improve sample preparation throughput even as the samples themselves are becoming more challenging to prepare because of smaller features and ever-shrinking device nodes.
“Plasma FIB is gaining ground as a technique for thin sample preparation, because Xe Plasma FIB-prepared lamellae are free of gallium implantation and have significantly less beam-induced surface damage,” states Jozef Vincenc Oboňa, product marketing director, Semiconductors at TESCAN. “By extending unattended sample preparation capabilities of AutoSlicer for TESCAN Ga FIB-SEM to our Xe plasma FIB-SEM instruments, we are able to help our users further leverage both the time-savings and sample quality advantages of Plasma FIB, with samples prepared more quickly, more consistently, with fewer artifacts and less amorphization.”
TESCAN AutoSlicer automates the initial steps in the TEM sample preparation workflow: navigation to regions of interest, protective layer deposition, trench milling, polishing and the undercut to release the sample from the trench. Following these initial preparation steps, AutoSlicer’s semi-automated workflows guide users through lift-out and attachment of the lamella to the TEM grid. Users can develop custom workflows unique to their samples which are then saved within AutoSlicer and recalled as needed. Also, like all TESCAN software modules, AutoSlicer is fully integrated within the TESCAN Essence user interface, so it is easy to understand and operate, even for users who don’t have extensive sample preparation experience.
AutoSlicer is fully integrated within the TESCAN Essence user interface and is available for TESCAN AMBER and TESCAN SOLARIS Ga FIB-SEM instruments and for TESCAN AMBER X and TESCAN SOLARIS X Plasma FIB-SEM instruments.
Silicon sample, 10 × 10 array of lamellae, all with the undercut step completed, prepared using an unattended, automated process. Preparation time was 8 hours with greater than 96% success rate. Image Credit: TESCAN
Example of a sample after automated trenching and undercut, ready for in-situ inverted geometry lift-out. With TESCAN AutoSlicer™ handling the automated milling and deposition process, the user need only adjust the exact sample position for final thinning. Image Credit: TESCAN