The Center for Applied Quantum Technology (ZAQuant) receives the world’s first ZEISS GeminiSEM 560 installation
The precise measurement of physical quantities is a driving force for almost all technical progress. The key mission at the Center for Applied Quantum Technology (ZAQuant) at the University of Stuttgart (Germany) is the development of novel quantum sensors for improved sensitivity, specificity and energy efficiency.
Tell us about your job at ZAQuant.
I’m a mixture of a researcher and an experimental officer. I look after the clean room by managing the space and keeping it functional. I do some training, but I also use the equipment a lot myself to manufacture the micro- and nano-structured devices we need for our experiments. I work on characterization of the structures we produce, for which I utilize the new GeminiSEM.
How does Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscopy (FE-SEM) support your work?
It is important to see our devices on a nanometer scale.
FE-SEM is used to control the nano- and microstructuring process. We use a clean room which is equipped with various instruments for nanoscale structuring. Quality needs to be carefully controlled in these small dimensions.
We also use FE-SEM to characterize the microstructures and correlate with their optical properties. We use EDS to identify impurities or other defects. We need precise measurements of the dimensions of the structures. These need to be measured precisely with the help of the microscope.
Electrochemically grown single crystalline gold. Simon Mangold and Bettina Frank. 4th Physics Institute, University of Stuttgart. Electrochemical methods allow the synthesis of mono- and polycrystalline gold structures. High resolution imaging is critical to investigate the growth mechanism and optimize and tune the growth. Apart from monocrystalline structures, which exhibit perfect hexagonal or triangular shapes and smooth surfaces, polycrystalline structures with irregular shapes are observed. For more information: Science Advances3, e1700721 (2017).
Were there any particular features of GeminiSEM that are useful for your work?
I was very impressed with the flexibility of the system. There are various detectors available to image and highlight topography, material contrast, edges on the surface and all the different features of our samples. The system can image at both low and very high magnification. Imaging at the highest magnification is important, but we have to deal with very different materials ranging from metal to ceramic and sometimes even organic molecules. It was important to be able to image without suffering from charging.