Electron microscope adds chemical analysis capabilities
Queensland University of Technology (QUT) recently purchased a TESCAN MIRA3 FEG-SEM (Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscope) and Thermo Scientific UltraDry EDS (Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy) system from scientific instrument supplier AXT. The high-performance SEM will be installed at the Central Analytical Research Facility (CARF) — a laboratory that houses instruments for analysing the physical, mechanical, chemical and biological properties of solids, liquids and gases.
“The MIRA offered a host of features that we felt would be beneficial to our facility, which caters to users from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines,” said QUT’s Dr Jamie Riches. “In particular, the image quality produced by the in-lens detector and the large chamber were very attractive, and the system offered the best price to performance ratio of the systems tested.”
The SEM features a high-brightness Schottky emitter allowing users to generate high-resolution images with low noise and resolution down to 1 nm. It is built around the large XMU chamber, which gives researchers the flexibility to analyse samples as large as 300 mm wide. It will allow researchers to investigate their materials at the micro and nano level, helping them to better understand how these structures behave.
The microscope also includes BDM (beam deceleration mode) imaging, which will allow the QUT team to more easily image sensitive samples such as nanoparticles under low-vacuum conditions which more accurately replicate ambient operating conditions. The included Peltier stage also allows them to investigate how samples behave at temperatures between -70 and 50°C.
When combined with the Thermo Scientific EDS system, QUT researchers will be able to look at the elemental composition of their samples. By looking at the homogeneity, elemental distribution and changes in composition using the Pinnacle analytical software package, the researchers will gain an insight into the relationships between chemistry and performance.
“This is the first TESCAN microscope that we have purchased and we’re looking forward to having it installed and adding to the capability in our lab,” said Dr Riches. “We already envisage it being used to investigate such things as polymer scaffolds for bone healing, corrosion studies on stainless steel through to multilayer materials for solar cell devices.
“In addition, the EBL (electron beam lithography) system will be a useful complement to the ion beam instruments that we have for device preparation, while the plasma cleaner will help us control contaminants in the column from samples that may break down on exposure to the electron beam in vacuo.”
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