Compu-Tech Intl.

Ion Beam Sputtering and Electron Microscopy

April 26, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Guest post provided by Denton Vacuum, LLC. Denton Vacuum manufactures machines that employ precision methods like ion beam deposition practical applications such as electron microscopy. Visit for more information.

Applications for vacuum coating systems are vitally useful for the electron microscope. Scientists studying sensitive specimens need optics that do not interfere with how the specimen behaves for better controls of the experiment. Electron microscopes use a beam of electrons to create a visible image of the specimen that scientists can then analyze. Electron microscopes have an intensely higher resolution and power than light microscopes, and give scientists the ability to do much more detailed research studies. Conductive coatings provided by ion beams allow prevention of tainting the specimen with a charging of the sample by conducting heat away from it.

There are different types of machines that can produce the coating need for these functions. Among these machines are Sputter coaters, vacuum evaporators, electron beam evaporators, and ion beam sputtering systems. The process is straightforward and intriguing. First, the coating substance is placed with the source material inside a vacuum chamber inside the ion beam sputtering system. Afterwards, with the pressure low, an inert gas is introduced. A Radio frequency strikes the gas, causing it to become ionized. The vaporized gas condenses on the surface of the target in the form of a diamond-like film. This film protects specimens scientists are observing from heat and ionization that can result from the use of a light microscope.

Thin, continuous, and uniform deposition of the coating material is absolutely vital for sensitive samples or samples that are prone to charging. These sensitive samples can range from anything including carbon black powder, immunogold and softwood fibers. Scientists who utilize electron microscope technology need a superior amount of precision offered by quality ion beam deposition systems.