Selected Applications of Focused Ion Beam Scanning Electron Microscopy in Materials Science

White Papers detailing the advantages of ZEISS Crossbeam FIB-SEM technology

With ZEISS Crossbeam you combine the imaging and analytical performance of the GEMINI column with the ability of a next-generation FIB for material processing and sample preparation on a nanoscopic scale. Use the modular platform concept and the open and easily extendable software architecture of this 3D nano-workstation for high throughput nanotomography and nanofabrication of even your most demanding, charging or magnetic samples.

This article highlights current applications of ZEISS Crossbeam technology for high-end nanofabrication, correlative nano-imaging, and advanced materials analysis. Download the White Papers as free pdf files and contact us for further questions via our website!

Lithium Battery

18650 Lithium ion battery. Site of interest, cross-section prepared with the FIB, SEM overview image showing topography (right)

ZEISS Application Note: Multi-scale Characterization of Lithium Ion Battery Cathode Material by Correlative X-ray and FIB-SEM Microscopy

Thermoelectric Material

Thermoelectric material. Volume rendering of FIB-SEM acquisition (left), showing a Si-rich phase in orange and a Sn-rich phase in green, with clear interdiffusion in the transition zone ~25-30 μm wide in the center. Single slice from SEM acquisition (right), material contrast, 5k × 2.5k pixels, corresponding to ~40 × 20 × 5 μm volume, acquired with isotropic 8 nm voxels.

ZEISS Application Note: Correlative XRM-FIB/SEM Study of Thermoelectric Materials

Corrosion on Magnesium Alloy

Crack and corrosion byproduct geometries after corrosion in a magnesium alloy. Thermoelectric material. A 3D rendering of the volume acquired (left) with FIB-SEM tomography. The data reveals crack geometries and salt deposits (blue arrow) as well as complex corrosion product microstructures (red arrow). Overlay (right) of X-ray (in the background) and FIB-SEM data showing an equivalent plane of data in 2D.

ZEISS Application Note: Multi-scale Correlative Study of Corrosion Evolution in a Magnesium Alloy

Cryo FIB-SEM on Healthcare Products

SEM overview over a skin cream, imaged under cryo-conditions in a FIB-SEM showing vesicles (arrows) and platelets (ellipsoids) (left). Vesicle distribution and their internal structure can be investigated. Detail of a vesicle, SEM topography image of a cryo-planed surface, cryo-ultra-microtome preparation, imaged at low voltage (right).

ZEISS Application Note: Microstructure of Skin Cream Using Cryo-planing and Cryo-FIB-SEM


Measurement of thickness and exact determination of the number of graphene layers by a unique detection of material contrast with the Inlens Energy selective Backscatter detector. Dispersed graphene flakes deposited on a lacey carbon TEM grid. The landing energy is selected such that the interaction volume matches the sample dimensions. For a quantitative analysis the number of graphene layers can be determined from grey-value analysis in the BSE image. In this case the thickness is normalized to the supporting lacey carbon grid. Inlens EsB image (left), color-coded image (right).

ZEISS Application Note:  Thickness Measurement of Free-standing Multilayered Graphene: Comparison of SEM Backscatter Signal to TEM Plasmon Energy Loss Signal

TEM Lamella Preparation

A three-step workflow in the FIB steering software SmartFIB guides automated sample preparation, such as TEM lamellae preparation.

ZEISS Application Note:  ZEISS Crossbeam Family – Enabling Smart FIB Work with SmartSEM

TEM Lamella Preparation 2

Preparation of ultrathin lamellae from sensitive polymer samples using FIB and the X² method produces stable TEM lamellae. Using a dedicated ZEISS sample holder, ultrathin lamellae can be produced from sensitive polymer samples with low distortion and uniform thickness. Left: model of the principle of the X2 method. Right: STEM image.

ZEISS Application Note: X² STEM Lamella Preparation from Multi-composite Organic Electronic Devices with ZEISS FIB-SEMs

Semiconductor Device

Front-end of a semi-conductor device in a 45 nm node. TEM lamella prepared by FIB. STEM images. Diffraction contrast in brightfield image (left). No diffraction visible in HAADF image (right), the contrast of the silicide present on top of the transistors and in some regions of the Si substrate is totally dominated by mass scattering. The ion implanted silicon regions between the transistors show alterations of the crystalline structure, but no mass contrast, due to the limited presence (ppm range) of the dopant atoms in the region.

ZEISS Technology Note: An Annular detector for ZEISS FE-SEMs and Crossbeams – aSTEM 4 Combines Multiple Contrasting Methods and Analysis Speed for High Quality Imaging in SEMs

Chromium Depletion in Stainless Steel

Heat affected X2CrNi18-10 stainless steel from a pipeline. Small chromium carbide particles form at grain boundaries, causing chromium depletion of the surrounding matrix and thus promoting corrosion. TEM Lamella, prepared with FIB, imaged with STEM (left). Energy dispersive spectroscopy, element mapping with a lateral resolution of 10 nm of a site showing regions with and without Chromium at a grain boundary (right).

ZEISS Application Note: ZEISS Crossbeam Family – High Resolution STEM and EDS Study of Chromium Depletion in Stainless Steel

For more amazing applications, details and direct contact, please visit our product website and discover how the unique ZEISS Crossbeam technology will advance your research!

Complimentary webinar invitation: Overcoming Multi-scale Challenges in Materials Science with ZEISS Atlas 5

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