When material specimen surfaces are prepared for SEM or incident light microscopy, the specimen usually undergoes multiple processes until the layer or surface to be analyzed is machined with precision. Leica Microsystems’ workflow solutions for solid state technology cover all steps required for demanding high-quality sample preparation.
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While the Leica EM TXP unites all steps of pre-preparation in one instrument, the Leica EM TIC 3X carries out the final, high quality surface finishing for almost any material. Connecting with the Leica EM VCT docking configuration, the sample can then be transferred into the (cryo) SEM under optimal conditions.
Enhanced Resolution with Ion Beam Milling
The Ion Beam Milling technique, also known as Ion Beam Etching, is used to achieve a well-prepared sample surface quality for high resolution imaging and analysis. It removes residual artefacts from mechanical cutting and polishing. The ion polished cross-sections and planar samples prepared by Ion Beam Etching can be used for electron microscopy imaging as well as microstructural analysis applications such as EDS, WDS, Auger and EBSD.
The EM TIC 3X Milling Machine offers triple ion beams that speed up the preparation process significantly and achieve to reveal finest details and structures on sample surfaces. Watch the video and see how to cut the preparation time for IC gold wire bonding using the Target Surfacing System EM TXP and the EM TIC 3X Ion Beam Milling System.
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Preparation often begins with a need to accurately cut, grind and polish the surface prior to ion beam milling and metal/carbon coating. With the Leica EM TXP target preparation system all required machining steps can be completed in one instrument – from diamond cutting and milling to polishing.
The unique broad ion beam milling system of the Leica EM TIC 3X is the system of choice for EDS, WDS, Auger and EBSD, because ion beam milling is often found to be the only method capable of achieving high quality cross-sections and planed surfaces of almost any material. The process reveals the internal structures of a sample whilst minimizing deformation or damage.
To obtain high-quality images of samples with scanning (SEM) or transmission electron microscopy (TEM), your samples need to be conductive to avoid charging. If a sample does not have a high enough conductivity, then you can quickly cover it with a conductive layer using the method of sputter coating. Also, a carbon or e-beam evaporator coating can be used. Such coatings protect the sample, allow enhancing of the EM image contrast, or can act as a TEM-grid support film for small scale samples.
High pressure freezing is often the preferred method for preserving aqueous samples in their close-to-native state, as it captures the intricate changes in fine structure or cellular dynamics. Leica Microsystems combines high pressure freezing with light stimulation or electrical stimulation: It enables you to visualize highly dynamic processes or the structural changes of samples at a nanometer resolution and with millisecond precision.
Whether tissue sample, polymer, rubber, metals or nanoparticles, Leica ultramicrotomes provide extremely thin sections and perfect surface quality in a wide range of applications. From materials science to cancer research, our ultramicrotomes are used for many different kinds of research and quality control all over the world.
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