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Tools of the Trade


Going fast and strong at Forty

Carl Zeiss SMT celebrates 40 years of Scannning Electron Microscopy


Oberkochen, 01.08.2005. Carl Zeiss SMT proudly celebrates the 40th anniversary of its Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM). In 1965 the first commercial SEM was built by Cambridge Instrument Company, a UK based predecessor company of Carl Zeiss SMT´s nanotechnology division. Four decades later, the 'industrial gene pool' of this worldwide successful commercialization is apparent in a broad line of industry leading SEMs, partly still manufactured in Cambridge, UK by Carl Zeiss SMT Ltd.

Indispensible Tool
With 40 years of continuous growth and development, the SEM has become an indispensable and enabling tool for various generations of nano technologists from multiple disciplines. From its early home in materials science, the SEM has cut a swathe through the disciplines of electronics, forensics, paper and archaeology. More recently, it has evolved to stake a claim to a place on the lab benches of the pharmaceutical researchers, food technologists and biologists, adapting subtly to fulfil the discrete requirements of these individual disciplines. Last but not least, the Semiconductor Industry makes extensive use of SEM technology for process control and failure analysis. It is, in fact, the ultimate nanotechnology tool.

Ongoing development
Since introduction of the first SEMs, an ongoing development has added unforeseen functionality. Two of these developments are of exceptional meaning: First the development of the proprietary ZEISS GEMINI® column technology in 1992, giving a boost to resolution, and second the combination of the SEM column with a Focused Ion Beam (FIB) column, transforming the instrument into a multi versatile analysis workstation branded CrossBeam® XB. CrossBeam® enables researchers for an unprecedented view below the surface of a specimen. Advantage of the CrossBeam® technology is the time saving cut-and-see operation during milling and polishing, leading to extremely short inspection times for cross sections. But of course development still goes on. As the industry leading analytical platform, the currently unveiled EVO® generation offers the widest range of SEMs for WDS, Raman, EBSD and CL applications. The newly developed backscattered electron detector further enhances the analytical capabilities of the EVO® system especially at low accelerating voltages. The emerging combination of Raman spectroscopy and SEM navigation is recognised with a dedicated microscope – the EVO® 50 Raman.

Applying Pressure for a Win-Win Situation
Furthermore, most modern SEM systems of Carl Zeiss SMT can operate in a Variable Pressure (VP) mode as well as the traditional high vacuum mode. An operational mode that is incorporated in both ZEISS EVO® and SUPRA™ series of SEM. In VP mode, a small amount of gas is introduced to the chamber up to approx. 400 Pa, which compensates for the charge that accumulates on the surface of non conductive specimens at high vacuum. This allows naturally insulating materials such as paper and plastic to be analysed without the need for surface coating.

By eliminating the need for specimens to be coated, time consuming specimen preparation is highly reduced, the overall operation of the microscope is simplified, the range of application areas where the SEM can play a role is widened and specimen throughput is increased. This increased flexibility is one of the key reasons behind the SEM's adoption to the examination of ceramics, plastics, forensic specimens,art objects and highly demanding semiconductor devices.

Water, water everywhere
A direct descendant of those first five microscopes produced at Carl Zeiss SMT´s location in Cambridge in 1965 is the recently introduced new generation of Zeiss EVO® XVP/EP SEMs. Their new design allows much higher chamber pressures to be used and will even allow for the introduction of water vapour. It's eXtended Variable Pressure (XVP) and Extended Pressure (EP) modes operate at up to 750 Pa and 3000 Pa, respectively, and open up a new realm of life science, healthcare, food and pharmaceutical research as well as creating a bridgehead into the new science of bioelectronics.

Markus Wiederspahn
Carl Zeiss SMT AG, Marketing
Phone: +49 7364 20-2194
Fax: +49 7364 20-4970
E-Mail: wiederspahn@smt.zeiss.com

This story has been adapted from a news release -
Diese Meldung basiert auf einer Pressemitteilung -
Deze tekst is gebaseerd op een nieuwsbericht -


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