QB3-Berkeley brought the first focused-ion-beam microscope to the UC Berkeley campus in 2011, in collaboration with multiple academic units. In 2014, a $2 million NSF grant enabled the addition of the first multi-beam helium-ion microscope to be installed at an academic institution in the U.S. The two instruments are housed in QB3’s Biomolecular Nanotechnology Center (BNC) in Stanley Hall.
Ion-beam microscopes are versatile tools used for imaging, analysis, micro- and nanofabrication. In a typical focused ion-beam (FIB) microscope, a gallium-ion beam is finely focused and scanned across the sample for surface imaging and analysis, and at high currents, researchers can perform site-specific sputtering of materials generating features down to the nanoscale. Typically, an electron-beam column is also integrated into the tool for imaging by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and SEM-based chemical and crystallographic analysis.
Recent advances have lead to the development of a new class of ion-beam microscope known as the helium-ion microscope (HIM), which produces an intense beam of helium ions formed by gas field-ionization at the apex of an atomically sharp tungsten tip. With the HIM, researchers can achieve charged-particle-based surface imaging, analysis and nanofabrication with unprecedented spatial resolution topographic and compositional contrast.
|The FIB instrument in the BNC is an FEI Quanta 3D FEG that in addition to the Ga+ beam incorporates a second column for scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Learn more about the dual-beam FIB microscope.
||The HIM instrument in the BNC is a Zeiss ORION NanoFab that enables the user to work with He+ or Ne+ beams generated from the HIM source and also incorporates a separate Ga+ FIB column. Learn more about the multi-beam HIM instrument.|
Use of the FIB and HIM instruments is available to BNC members. Please visit the BNC website for membership information and rates.