Core Technology

  • Natural State
  • No Charging
  • Any Sample Type
  • Any Sample Size
  • Open Architecture

Core Technology

airSEM����� is an innovative scanning electron microscope which sidesteps the main obstacles stemming from the need for vacuum as a prerequisite for capture of high-resolution images.

The proprietary technology overcomes fundamental electron beam imaging related challenges, such as scattering of electrons by gas molecules and efficient signal collection, leading to a resolution of 5nm under ambient conditions.

 

How does it work?

  • An electron beam is generated and focused in vacuum, using a high-end field emitter column.
  • An ultra-thin, semi-transparent, membrane separates the vacuum and the ambient, where the sample lies.
  • The primary electron beam passes through the membrane, the characteristics of which ensure a minimal effect on the spot shape and size.
  • The beam then propagates across a gap to impinge on the sample; by controlling the characteristics of the sample-membrane gap, electron scattering is minimized, hence contrast and resolution are maintained.
  • The emitted electrons and X-ray photons are detected by a set of detectors.

 

The SEM column used in airSEM™ is TESCAN MIRA3 field emitter column.

 

The core technology allowing the sample to freely move under the microscope in open air. Hence the sample can also be translated to other microscopes placed on the same platform yielding the concept of  airSEM™ Imaging Station.

No Charging

Operating in air provides an inherent charge neutralization mechanism, obviating the need for special preparation steps typically required in vacuum SEM to minimize charging on non-conducting substrates.

The advantage here is twofold:

  • Conductive layer coating techniques, typically used in vacuum SEM to overcome these charging effects, introduce materials foreign to the underlying sample and potentially morphological artifacts. By dismissing the need for coating, airSEM™  avoids such issues altogether.
  • Sample charging is a major obstacle in electron beam-based imaging, potentially inducing image distortions and reducing overall image quality. Such hurdles can be overcome by careful tuning of the imaging conditions, but requires profound expertise. In contrast, the absence of charging in airSEM™ renders its operation almost trivial, requiring merely minimal skills.

Any Sample Type

The airSEM™ technology supports handling of samples which are incompatible with vacuum conditions (e.g., high vapor pressure materials such as sulfur, emulsions and wet samples), thereby overcoming key limitations and obstacles of vacuum SEM.

This feature opens new research directions, rendering many outstanding questions more readily addressable. In doing so, this revolutionary microscope is becoming an inspirational tool in the forefront of nano-systems research.

Any Sample Size

airSEM™  is the first scanning electron microscope that does not require the  sample to reside  in a vacuum chamber.

Open-air microscopy simplifies imaging of large samples and overcomes the need to break the sample into small pieces for observation inside a vacuum chamber.

In one of its configurations, the airSEM™  microscope is currently being successfully implemented in defect characterization of FPD GEN 5.5 plates (1½ x 2 meters).

Open Architecture

The open architecture of the airSEM™ allows both to access the sample by other techniques directly under the airSEM™ and to precisely move the sample to other imaging, analysis and manipulation technologies situated on the same platform.

This yields two new possibilities:

    • Conduct experiments and follow the changes of a sample subjected to chemical, mechanical or other physical manipulations using high resolution SEM imaging.
    • Use several characterization techniques combined on the same platform to form a multi modal imaging station
 

Having a high resolution SEM on a standard experimental workbench with all the flexibility and modularity is now possible.