In a move that marks the beginning of a new era in microscopy, Carl Zeiss SMT, a leading global provider of electron- and ion-beam imaging and analysis solutions, today officially presented the ORION Helium ion microscope at the Microscopy and Microanalysis 2007 conference. The microscope’s technology is based on proprietary intellectual property developed by ALIS Corporation, a Peabody, Massachusetts-based start-up company acquired by Carl Zeiss SMT in 2006.
“We are extremely pleased to have achieved this milestone,” said Dirk Stenkamp, member of the Carl Zeiss SMT executive board. “Today, we are presenting a breakthrough technology in microscopy, an advancement that will provide our customers with the power to discover things they have never seen before, and to solve problems never before solvable.”
According to Carl Zeiss SMT, this new microscope is capable of providing images of unrivalled high resolution, surface information and material contrast, unachievable with any other microscopy instrument available today and paving the way for a new era in sub-nanometer, ultra-high resolution scanning microscopy.
The ORION scanning ion microscope uses a beam of Helium ions —rather than electrons typically used in scanning electron microscopes (SEM) — to image and measure. Since Helium ions can be focused into a substantially smaller probe size and provide a much smaller sample interaction compared to electrons, the ORION system can generate higher resolution images with greatly improved material contrast at a substantially extended depth of focus.
Bill Ward, principal inventor of the Helium Ion Microscope, founder of ALIS Corporation and Chief Technologist at Carl Zeiss SMT Inc., said, “Our new Helium Ion Microscope is possible because of a significant breakthrough in physics. Because the ORION ion beam appears to be emanating from a region which is less than an angstrom in size, the resulting ion beam has a remarkable brightness. This makes it possible to focus the beam into a very small probe size. Ultimately, this microscope will enable further scientific advancements in a large number of fields, such as semiconductor process control, life science applications and materials analysis.”
Commenting on the high level of international interest in this instrument, Stenkamp said, “Customer demand is very strong and we have already successfully installed a Helium ion Microscope at a key customer in the United States. We are pleased to announce that the world’s first ORION Helium ion microscope was shipped to the U.S. National Institute for Science and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Maryland where it has been installed in the Advanced Measurement Laboratory (AML), one of the most technically advanced laboratory facilities in the world.”