Contrast Enhancement of Polycrystalline Metals - Sample Preparation for SEM

Application Note for Leica EM RES102 - Material Research

February 01, 2017

Ion milling is a perfect alternative for chemical etching, especially for polycrystalline metals, such as copper. Ion milling can be used to increase the contrast of the grain structure and their interfaces. In contrast to chemical etching the milling process is clean, safe and easy to operate. Ion energy and milling time depend on the milling rate of the metal.

Process Parameters

Acceleration voltage:2 kV
Gun current:1.5 mA
Milling angle:50°
Milling time:3 min

Copper has a high milling rate, therefore the grain structure is clearly visible after a short milling time of only 3 min.

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Cu surface after ion beam slope cutting