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Posted: Mar 08, 2012

AURIGA Laser: Innovative Combination of FIB/SEM Technology with Laser Ablation for Fast Sample Preparation

(Nanowerk News) Today, Carl Zeiss has launched the AURIGA® Laser, a new advanced system combining the specific advantages of the AURIGA® CrossBeam (FIB-SEM) workstation with the capabilities of a pulsed micro-focus laser for fast ablation of material. AURIGA® Laser is particularly useful for the examination of samples where the target structure is deeply buried under material layers. To gain access to the target structure this material needs to be removed – a procedure which is difficult to conduct with conventional techniques. Mechanical ablation and cross-sectioning of large material volumes often cause deformations, making the sample unsuitable for further examination. In contrast, applying a focused ion beam is inefficient, because the process is much too slow.
AURIGA Laser
The new AURIGA Laser combines proven FIB-SEM operation with new material ablation capabilities based on the application of a nanosecond pulsed, diode-pumped solid-state laser.
Ablation with a pulsed micro-focus laser beam offers clear advantages: it does not damage the sample, and it enables ablation rates comparable to mechanical removal.
The scanning laser used in this unique solution is a nanosecond pulsed, diode-pumped solid-state laser operating at 355 nm provided by TRUMPF AG (Ditzingen, Germany). It was chosen from a broad range of different types of lasers to optimally meet the demands of preparing structures for SEM examination. In cooperation with Carl Zeiss, researchers from the Fraunhofer-Institute for Non-destructive Testing (IZFP – Fraunhofer-Institut für Zerstörungsfreie Prüfverfahren) in Dresden, have optimized the workflow of the innovative tool – ease of use, fast transfer procedures and fast relocation of the region of interest on the sample under examination, took center stage in the cooperation.
In order to protect the AURIGA FIB-SEM workstation and detectors from debris generated during the laser ablation process, the system is equipped with a separate chamber for laser operation. After preparing the structure of interest with the laser the sample is transferred under vacuum conditions to the main chamber for SEM examination or FIB polishing. Retrieving the target structure is achieved automatically. The transfer is carried out quickly and smoothly in a matter of seconds – resulting in a very simple and continuous workflow. To realize specific ablation patterns, the laser is equipped with CAD software controlling the scanner head. This enables the user to pre-define even highly complex patterns of the sample structure.
AURIGA® Laser is the first such instrument on the market. Dr. Martin Kienle, Director CrossBeam product line at Carl Zeiss, is convinced: "AURIGA® Laser is a milestone in simplifying the SEM examination of a vast range of innovative materials and structures, overcoming the limitations of conventional preparation methods. It enables the users to carry out new applications and to examine complex structures like next-generation nano-technology processors or flexible thin film solar cells." Future applications comprise semiconductor manufacturing, photovoltaics, polymer electronics, joining and contacting technologies, oil and gas prospection, geomechanical consulting, pharmaceuticals, life sciences and materials research in general. The system is also suitable for the preparation of microsystems that contain soft or brittle phases, such as foams, lightweight construction materials, glass fibers or ceramics, composite materials, pore filters, batteries, fuel cells or geological samples.
Carl Zeiss
The Carl Zeiss Group is an international leader in the fields of optics and optoelectronics. In fiscal year 2010/11 the company's approx. 24,000 employees generated revenue of about 4.237 billion euros. In the markets for Industrial Solutions, Research Solutions, Medical Technology and Consumer Optics, Carl Zeiss has contributed to technological progress all over the world for more than 160 years. With its innovative technologies and leading-edge solutions, Carl Zeiss is successful in the fields of Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology, Industrial Metrology, Microscopy, Medical Technology, Vision Care and Consumer Optics/Optronics. Carl Zeiss AG is fully owned by the Carl Zeiss Stiftung (Carl Zeiss Foundation).
Microscopy
The Microscopy business group at Carl Zeiss is the world's only manufacturer of both light and electron microscopes. The company's extensive portfolio enables research and routine applications in the life and materials sciences. The product range includes light and laser scanning microscopes, electron and ion microscopes and spectrometer modules. Users are supported for software for system control, image capture and editing. The Microscopy business group has sales companies in 33 countries. Application and service specialists support customers around the globe in demo centers and on site. The business group is headquartered in Jena. Additional production and development sites can be found in Oberkochen, Göttingen and Munich, as well as in the UK and the USA. The company has around 2,500 employees and generates revenue of 620 million euros.
Source: Carl Zeiss (press release)
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