The EM ACE600 sputter coater is a versatile high vacuum film deposition instrument for your FE-SEM and TEM applications.
Whether you need to
- enhance contrast by a fine-grained metal layer,
- produce nanometer thin but robust carbon films,
- rotary shadow your sample to make smallest features visible, or to
- move into cryo-coating,
the ACE600 coater will offer the optimal solution to see more, and this every time.
What is in an ACE600 coater?
The ACE600 offers the coating methods sputtering, carbon thread, carbon rod and e-beam evaporation. Up to two methods can be used at the same time in the same instrument. Additionally glow discharge can be performed by the instrument. This gives the flexibility to choose the best methods for the individual applications. This is realised with angled sources attached to a metal vacuum chamber and a rotating stage to allow evenly distributed films on a stage size over 100mm. Due to this set-up, a normal coater can be upgraded into a coater with a cryo-stage to perform freeze fracture application and connect to the Leica EM VCT500.
Giving the electron microscope the coater it deserves.
Knowing what happens in the final step
Precisely measured and stable parameters are they key to reproducible performance. The fully automated coating process ensures, that the conditions are the same for each run. Besides that, operation of the instrument is straight forward. A special solution of valves ensure an accurate and stable Argon pressure during sputter coating together with a quartz crystal thickness measurement in the middle of the stage, gives full control over the result. The pre-vacuum level, main contributor to the granularity for a coated layer, can be set to a low 10-6mbar (even less is possible) value for high resolution imaging or to the 10-4mbar range, to process a sample very fast.
Gives confidence that the imaging analysis will be positive.
Ultra-thin carbon films
Carbon coating has multiple applications for electron microscopy. It is conductive but invisible for the electron beam and has no grain structure. It can be only a thin film on a section for a TEM analysis or adding some conductivity for SEM imaging. Furthermore, many samples require carbon films on the TEM grid to be processed. The film has to be as thin as possible, robust and stable. With the adaptive pulsed carbon thread method thin films are produced which can even be baked out for reduction of contamination.
Make smallest features visible
To be able to see nm scaled structures, such as proteins or DNA strands, a special coating is required. By coating with a low angle, a visible shadow is created. To achieve this, the coating has to be directional, fine grained and in a precise one digit angle. The e-beam source together with a motorized 3-axis movable stage provides all those features.
A sample is sensitive and needs protection
The often fragile precious EM samples, which were prepared in many steps and hours beforehand, need protection from the analysing electron beam.
A heavy metal coating will protect it from beam damage. The goal is, as thin as possible to not cover interesting features but giving sufficient protection, enhancement of the signal and conductivity.
… and even more protection
The sample needs to be protected from heat, resulting from the coating process itself. All coating methods provided by the ACE600 are optimized to transfer no heat to the sample. The adaptive pulsed carbon thread method heats up the carbon thread only for an instant of time, the sputtering process works with a magnetic field, so less power is needed to release target atoms, and e-beam evaporation works with a shutter and aperture system to shield the sample from the glowing filament.