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AIM - Adaptive Ion Milling

AIM – Adaptive Ion Milling technology


AIM - Adaptive Ion Milling technology, dedicated Transmission Electron Microscope TEM specimen preparation as well as other specimen preparation needs in the Semiconductor industry.

AIM was developed to overcome the limitations of other preparation technologies in regards to artifacts, size of selected area, lamella thickness and productivity.

AIM technology is the realization of a concept for combining ideal precise milling of a TEM sample with automated in-line accurate end-point detection. It is universally known that the best method for obtaining high quality and large area sections or lamella with negligible artifacts through material removal is by means of gentle broad ion milling. However this technique could not be applied effectively to sample preparation because it could not fulfill the essential requirements of precision in-line Scanning Transmission Electron Microscope (STEM) imaging, together with actual quantitative measurement of the lamella thickness and productivity. It was therefore relegated to the function of touch-up of a FIB or mechanically polished lamella or preparation of non site-specific specimens where throughput was not an issue.

The key element of AIM technology is a versatile ion gun assembly with controllable energy for aggressive milling but also capable of gentle milling, and a versatile controllable dynamic beam that can impact a specimen at a multitude of angles of attack. This key element facilitates another fundamental element of the technology namely automated in-line accurate end-point detection. The dynamic nature of the ion beam allows the sample to be static (or quasi-static) and the orientation of the central ion beam axis to be configured in such a way as to allow the electron beam to be orthogonal to the sample during the whole duration of sample preparation. Thus in-line Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) imaging is an integral part of the process. More so, this configuration allows a transmission electron detector (TED) to be positioned on the underside of the sample along the electron beam axis so that it can perform in-line STEM imaging once the sample becomes transparent to electrons. The combination of in-line SEM imaging, utilizing either secondary electron (SE) and/or back-scattered electron (BSE) detectors, and throughout the material removal process, provide an ideal and extremely effective end-point detection capability.

The ability to build recipe driven material removal applications due to the controllable nature of the ion gun source and optics as well as the electron beam source and detectors is another essential ingredient that allows high throughput of site specific sample preparation. Worthy of emphasis is the ability to dynamically control the quality of the sample surface for best imaging during all stages of the process. This is achieved by building recipes that combine various impact angles and energies of the ion beam so that surface quality and selectivity are optimized throughout the process.

See also

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "AIM_-_Adaptive_Ion_Milling". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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